Why Norwegians No Longer Immigrate into America

As the current President of the United States of America seems to be cracking down on immigration, there is one group of people who Donald Trump would dearly like to welcome into America that are refusing his invitation. Mr Trump’s comments on some of the countries and immigrants that are represented in the U.S have been less than positive and even downright rude, but he has singled out Norway as a place he would like more immigrants to come from.

The Figures

Data taken from the Department of Homeland Security in 2016, showed that 1.18 million people entered the U.S and became permanent residents. Only three hundred and sixty-two of these immigrants were from Norway. To even further amplify this fact, during the same period the number of Green Card holders that became U.S citizens was just over seven hundred and fifty thousand, of these only ninety-three were Norwegians. There has been a steady decline of Norwegians who have entered America over the last fifty years according to the Migration Policy Institute, which is a body that researches migration trends globally.

There are now fewer Norwegians living in the U.S than any other major country in Europe, but it was not always this way, so what has happened?

The Norwegian Story

The great European immigration to America was between 1825 and 1925 and during this period over eight hundred thousand Norwegians came to settle in the U.S. At the time Norway was in the economic doldrums and it was a good time to immigrate. In 1862 the Homestead Act was passed which basically offered free land to people who would guarantee they would live on it for five years. Norway embraced this offer and it is estimated that the country lost the second largest share of its population, only bested by Ireland.

Then the 1924 Immigration Act soon reversed this trend, as a by-product of the new law an unintended drop in immigration numbers from Norway happened almost immediately. The cold facts are that Norwegians fared so badly in America that over seventy percent of them returned home. This was generally because of poor jobs and low incomes, life was simply better back home.

The Current Situation

But it was not really the U.S that changed, it was Norway. The 1960’s provided great affluence in Norway with the discovery of oil and gas. As a nation they handled their new prosperity well, investment was pumped back into Norway and it became one of the highest per capita income countries in the world. Norway now has a higher life expectancy than the U.S, it also has lower rates of infant mortality, the crime statistics are much lower than America, there is lower unemployment, and it is ranked as the world’s happiest country to live in (America ranks 14).

So, in a nutshell there is little advantage for Norwegians to come to the U.S and become residents. America is not the place it used to be, and by the same token neither is Norway. As the global economy changes so does the desirability of certain countries. You never know, if Mr Trump does manage to build his Mexican wall, he might be tearing it down again in a hurry.