Norway: High number of pensioners among immigrants

Norway: High number of pensioners among immigrants

A new report says that 66% of the immigrant workers are pensioned after 35 years in Norway (NO), a pattern that repeats itself with new groups who come to the country.

The report from three researchers - Bent Bratsberg, Knut Røed og Oddbjørn Raaum - of the Frisch Centre was presented to the Welfare and Immigration committee today (project page here). The work on the report 'Job participation over the long term by different immigrant groups in Norway' is a continuation of previous research where they have looked at the level of employment, disability benefits recipients and pensioners among immigrant groups who came to Norway in the early 1970s.

Now they've looked at several additional groups, such as refugees from Vietnam, Sri-Lanka, Somalia, Chile, Bosnia and Iraq. The findings from former immigrations are repeated with the new groups, they write in the new report.

(click to enlarge)
% who are pensioned or receive benefits
Green - immigrant group, dotted blue - Norwegian born, dotted red - Norwegian low-income

After 10-15 years in Norway the employment levels fall, while more and more get pensions from age 40 and up. Many have a relatively short professional career in Norway.

The researchers conclude that exclusion from the job-market and tempting welfare schemes might be behind this development. Many of the findings in the report are ominous.

* Just 33% of the people in the first wave of foreign workers from Pakistan and Turkey are still working - the rest are getting disability benefits. 66% of the people in the Norwegian control group who are of the same age are still working.

* The pattern is repeated for those who came later via family reunification.

* Just half of the Somali men are working seven years after they came to Norway

* 40% of Iranian women are pensioned after 18 years in the country

* Almost all groups show a drop in the employment level after 10-15 years in Norway

* After 25 years, half of the immigrants are pensioned

* Many women from Somalia received transitional benefits for divorced women. 75% of the first Somali women who came to Norway get transitional benefits. The number is startling, as another group of Muslims - Norwegian-Pakistani women - are far below the Norwegian average for receiving such benefits.

Although some patterns recur for all groups, there are many exceptions.

Immigrants from Chile and Sri-Lanka don't stand out with a higher percentage of pensioners compared with the Norwegian-born.

A recurring feature of migrant workers is that in the beginning they have an higher share of employment than the Norwegian-born. Only after a few years do they leave the job market. This happened at the same time as jobs in the industry disappeared in the 1980s for the first wave of foreign workers. Since they had low-paying jobs, the move to pension meant low financial losses.

For the refugee groups who came to Norway later, the development is the other way around. Many get benefits in the beginning, but their share in the job market increases afterward. The different are just as big between different groups. After 6-7 years in Norway, over 85% of Bosnians were working, compared with just half of Somali men.

The researchers point out that a common feature among the different groups is that employment increases at first, but begins to fall after 10-15 years in the country.

"It seems to be a structural feature of the Norwegian job-market and/or its welfare scheme that exclusion or attraction mechanisms make it difficult to exploit the immigrant workforce in full over time," the researchers write.

See also:
* Denmark: Number of immigrants on early retirement triples
* Netherlands: 2nd generation making up pension accrual differences