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IN NUMBERS: How immigration has shaped Norway's population

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
IN NUMBERS: How immigration has shaped Norway's population
Immigration has shaped Norway's population in a number of ways in recent years. Pictured is a crowd of people in Oslo Central Station. Photo credit: Ekely Getty Images

Norway's population passed 5.5 million in 2023, with immigration one of the main contributors to the rise. Aside from growth, immigration has shaped Norway's population in a few other ways.


The population in Norway grew by 61,219 last year and surpassed 5.5 million, figures from the national data agency Statistics Norway show

Norway has seen steady population growth over the past two years, even if it was slower in 2023 than 2022. In 2022, the population grew by 63,700, the largest increase in ten years. 

Immigration has driven population growth in recent years. Net immigration - immigration minus emigration - was 52,600 last year.

Of the 86,600 to arrive in Norway from overseas in 2023, 33,000 were Ukrainian citizens. 

The number of Ukrainians in Norway has exploded since Russia invaded Ukraine. Since 2022, the number of Ukrainians living in Norway has increased from 3,600 to 65,800. 

Those fleeing Ukraine are granted temporary collective protection in Norway. Norway's Directorate of Immigration (UDI) does not process individual asylum applications and has instead adopted a blanket policy for Ukrainians and their family members

Ukrainians fleeing the war are also shaping the local population in northern Norway. The government has previously implemented a policy of lower taxes, student loan write-offs, and accessible childcare to combat depopulation in the north of Norway. 

Over the last two decades, births in the northernmost counties had dropped by 35 percent. 

READ MORE: The incentives to attract people to northern Norway

However, many Ukrainians settling in the north of Norway have helped result in the highest population growth since 1970 in Nordland, 1986 in Finnmark, and 2016 in Troms, according to Magnus Haug at Statistics Norway


Ukrainians are now Norway's second largest group of foreign nationals after Poles (111,100). Lithuanians (48,900) were the third largest group. Swedes (36,210), Syrians (36,147) and Somalians (27,811) were the following largest groups

After the expansion of the EU in 2004, it became much easier for Poles, Lithuanians and many other nationals to move to Norway under the Freedom of Movement rules.

In the year's following this expansion, immigration to Norway increased significantly surging from around 20,000 in the years running up to 2004 to more than 50,000 per year by the mid 2010s.

In the case of Syrians and Somalians, the large numbers of nationals belonging to these groups has been driven by a refugee crisis in each country. 

Statistics Norway keeps figures on the reason for immigrating, and around the time of the Somalian Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, asylum as the reason for moving spiked. 

Between 2006 and 2015, work overtook family as the most common reason for moving to Norway by some margin before becoming more interchangeable as the most common, or second most common (due to the influx of refugees in 2022) reason for moving. 

When it comes to work, immigrants in Norway make an average of 50,276 kroner per month. This is below the national average of 56,000 kroner per month

The number of immigrants living in Norway increased by 17.5 percent between 2018 and 2023. In total, there were around 877,227 immigrants living in Norway in 2023. 


Meanwhile, Norway's population has grown by around 4.8 percent since 2018. 

Not all children born in Norway are eligible for citizenship, so children born in Norway to two foreign-born parents belong to their own category. There were 213,810 children born to two immigrant parents residing in the country in 2023. This is an increase of 25.8 percent compared to 2018. 

The figures combined mean that there were more than a million foreigners or Norwegian-born children to two foreigners living in Norway in 2023. 

This amounts to these groups making up just under 20 percent of the Norwegian population. 

Looking ahead to the future, immigration will likely continue to greatly impact Norway's population. 

By 2060, Statistics Norway projects that the population will rise to just over 6.1 million. Of this projected population, 1.18 million will hail from abroad, while 436,399 will be born in Norway to two foreigners.

This would signal an increase in these groups, which make up 26.5 percent of the population. For reference, around 34.4 percent of the population of Oslo hailed from overseas or were born in Norway to two non-nationals

However, Statistics Norway notes great uncertainty associated with its projected immigration and population figures for 2060. 


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