Politicians boasts that the city is a great place to live and have children, but new calculations carried out for Aftenposten's evening edition show that Oslo's growth is almost exclusively due to its immigrant population.
Immigrants account for 92.5 percent of the capital's total population growth over the past ten years. Immigrants from western nations make up seven percent, while non-western immigrants are nearly 86 percent of the growth.
"That number is surprisingly high," admits the man behind the calculations, City of Oslo special adviser Geir Thornsnæs. He reckons that most of the immigrant growth is due to relocation, both from abroad and from other areas of Norway.
"Immigrant women have more children than Norwegians. But because Norwegian women are the great majority, the birth figures are not striking," Thorsnæs said, and notes that Poles and Somalians were the groups that increased the most last year. "A result of the expansion of the European Union and war," he said.
City council leader Erling Lae is well aware of the trend, and still views the overall immigrant segment as not particularly large.
"But growth is positive, stagnation is not. Without immigrants growth would be minimal," Lae said. "Balanced growth is ideal growth. I would not define any groups as a problem," Lae said. He would like to see more Norwegian families with children remaining in the city, and believes this is starting to happen.
Lae does not fear a distorted population in Oslo per se.
"It is only dangerous if the new groups do not become a normal part of the city's population, a combination of ghetto and unemployment. But we should remember that immigrants have contributed to the diversity that makes the city a magnet," Lae said.
Thorsnæs believes that factors outside of Norway will be decisive for the city's future.
"Those who have come, will stay. Refugee catastrophes and changes like the expansion of the EU will determine immigration," Thorsnæs said.
Source: Aftenposten (English)