Original Immigrants On Welfare

Aftenposten (Norway), October 30, 2006

Half of the first immigrants to Norway in the first half of the 1970s are now living on state payments.

The figure comes from a new study by the Frisch Center for Socio-economic Research and is supported by the University of Oslo, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports.

The study focused on 2,500 immigrants from Pakistan, India, Turkey and Morocco born between 1936 and 1955, and compared with a control group of Norwegians of the same age.

In their first ten years the immigrants were actively employed, and as many were employed as Norwegians. But after this period their activity declined sharply, and by 2000 half of the immigrants were unemployed, compared to 13 percent of their Norwegian peers.

Of the unemployed immigrants, 74 percent were on disability payments and 17 percent were receiving other types of welfare compensation.

“I was surprised by how great the fall was, and how many immigrants who are caught up in various forms of welfare benefits. These are people who came here to work, not to flee from war and persecution,” said Knut Røed, one of the authors of the study.

There are two main theories for why so many immigrants are no longer employed. One is that immigrants are far more vulnerable than Norwegians to unemployment during hard times and the other is that it pays to be on welfare.

“It is especially people who have poorly paid jobs, wives who don’t work and many children that can profit by getting disability pay,” said researcher Oddbjørn Raum.

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