A new report shows that emigration from Iceland since the financial collapse has been relatively small compared to other times in the country’s history of past economic troubles.
Early 2009 saw many news reports of Icelanders fleeing the country in search of a better life elsewhere, most notably in other Scandinavian countries. However, Vísir reports, when looked at within an historical context, emigration from Iceland this time around has been relatively light.
Ólöf Garðarsdóttir, a professor of educational science at the University of Iceland, compiled the data into a report for the Ministry of Welfare. She pointed out that while emigration has been small, foreigners living in Iceland have changed the face of society. This influence is due in large part to economic reasons.
High unemployment is a fact of life in most European countries, but some have been hit harder than others. The largest ethnic minority in Iceland is comprised of Poles. Poland has an unemployment rate of about 12%, while Iceland’s is at about 7.3%, and unemployment benefits in Iceland are also significantly higher than in Poland.
That being the case, foreigners living in Iceland have seen little reason to return to their native countries – as much as Iceland’s economy struggles to right itself, conditions are still significantly better here than they are in many other European countries.