Published December 3, 2012
Most of Iceland’s immigrant population arrived in the past five years, and the percentage of them working is higher than average for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD has finished doing its yearly report on immigration among the countries within the organisation. Their report on Iceland indicates, among other things, that Iceland’s immigrants earn only about three-fourths what the native population earns.
Iceland is in 18th place in the OECD in terms of the share of immigrants in its population, with the foreign-born accounting for 11% of the total population. 52% of them arrived in the last 5 years compared with 22% on average across OECD countries. 32% come from an OECD high-income country.
76% of the foreign-born population are employed (76 and 76% of men and women, respectively), which is higher than the OECD average. The foreign-born population is less likely to be employed than their native-born counterparts. This discrepancy is partly driven by differences in age and educational distributions. After accounting for these differences, the gap between the two groups gets wider for both men and women.
The immigrant household median income in Iceland is in the top half of OECD countries but its level is 24% lower than the native-born one (compared with -21% across OECD countries). 11% of persons living in an immigrant household live with income below the poverty line, compared with an average of 17% across OECD countries.
The Directorate of Immigration in Iceland has for a long time been over-worked and under-staffed, primarily due to a recent large influx of asylum seeker applications.