This article was published in Norway’s largest newspaper Verdens Gang (VG), on 15th May 2005.

Also available on-line is the Norwegian original.

Denne kronikken er også tilgjengelig på norsk.


Background information, statistical material, and quotes documenting the contentions in this article can be found here.


Cheating with immigration numbers



By Dr. Ole Jørgen Anfindsen, editor,



There are several reasons why Norway should allow immigration from both western and non-western countries. But there are hardly any good reasons why Norwegian authorities and media should not present the truth about immigration and the consequences thereof – be it in the short or long term. Nonetheless, that is exactly what is being done. Specifically it turns out that our authorities have cheated with prognoses for the number of immigrants.


Statistics Norway (SSB) is the authorities’ professional institution but, unfortunately, there are reasons to question the objectivity and the neutrality of SSB in these kinds of issues. Firstly, SSB has, as pointed out by VG associate Hanne Skartveit 04.04.2003, withheld certain types of demographic prognosis.



Strong claims


Secondly, when such prognoses are published, it turns out that the numbers are not trustworthy. Documentation of this contention can be found in the book Fellesskap til besvær – om nyere innvandring til Norge, published by the “The leading Norwegian academic publisher” Universitetsforlaget in 1992, with support from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration.


One of the chapters in the above mentioned book is written by the key demographic researcher in SSB, Mr. Lars Østby. He focuses on various contentions presented by anti-immigration interests that “the present immigration will result in a colored majority or even a Muslim majority in the ‘lifetime of our children’, ‘within a generation’, and similar”. Such statements are being categorically dismissed by Østby as completely out of touch with reality, and he does so with references to SSB’s own prognoses.


Specifically, Mr. Østby declares that even if we consider the most extreme alternative, we will in 2050 end up with 20% of the population in Norway (i.e. approximately 1 million people) having third world origins. However, SSB presented numbers in 2004 showing that already then did we have 249.000 immigrants from non-western countries. It is a statistical fact that the average annual growth for this group has been more than 8% in the period since 1990. These numbers are not moderate at all, and it is hard to envisage a future where this can continue without dramatic consequences.


Clearly the prognoses for the period 1990 to 2050 have been misleading. We need no more that a good 3% average annual growth to have more than a million citizens of non-western origins in the year 2050. If numerical growth continues at the rate we have seen since 1990, ethnic Norwegians will become a minority in this country before 2050.



An unrealistic assumption


How could SSB be so wrong? An investigation of the research reports that Mr. Østby referred to quickly reveals why. These reports rest on a very specific, and completely unrealistic, assumption: One takes for granted that net immigration will remain more or less constant throughout the entire prognosis period of almost 60 years.


The lack of realism in this assumption can quite easily be explained by pointing to the fact that the more immigrants we have, the more applications for family reunion and entry permits for spouses will be filed. It has a self reinforcing effect and typically results in so-called exponential growth. And indeed SSB’s numbers for the period both before and after 1990 clearly verifies this (see e.g.


In one of the SSB reports it is emphasized that only if this particular assumption turns out to be valid would the prognoses be of interest. Irrespective of this crystal clear reservation, the report has been abused to draw a faulty depiction of developments towards the year 2050.



Not a singular event


Mr. Østby has for many years been a key person in supplying the premises for Norwegian immigration policies. For example, on the 30th of December 2004 he published an article in Aftenposten (a leading Norwegian daily) addressing various problems relevant to integration of immigrants. The article is to a large degree characterized by Mr. Østby’s subjective evaluations of how successful or otherwise our policies in this area have been, and to a lesser degree marked by objective facts. This is remarkable, as was pointed out by Human Rights Service in a commentary published on 5th January 2005


Even so, Mr. Østby’s central contention in the above mentioned article (emphasized by Aftenposten) is that “any Muslim majority in ‘our time’, is totally unrealistic”. Anyone with a little knowledge of mathematics will see that Mr. Østby is stretching the truth with this statement. It is not without good reasons that researchers like the professors Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and Sigurd Skirbekk here in Norway are warning against an islamisation of Europe.



Something needs to be done about this


This year SSB will be initiating a new research project with the objective of presenting updated demographic prognoses for Norway. It is important that this time we get prognoses that are based on realistic assumptions, coupled with an unbiased description of the more likely future scenarios. This must be done without political considerations and without covering up unpleasant statistics by use of ‘smart’ definitions.


Mr. Østby is undoubtedly a competent professional. He has, however, repeatedly demonstrated that he has difficulties distinguishing sufficiently clearly between being a researcher on the one hand and being an immigration politician on the other. This is detrimental for SSB’s credibility.


It is hard to see how confidence in SSB can be re-established without a cleanup of the issues mentioned in this article. Politicians, media people, and intellectuals have all been mislead, and it should now be made totally clear that this is unacceptable.


Background information, statistical material, and quotes documenting the contentions in this article can be found here.



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