Iceland "Changing Into Immigrant Nation" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland “Changing Into Immigrant Nation”

Published January 10, 2016

Photos by
Julia Staples

As Icelanders get older, thousands more immigrants will be needed to fill new jobs, changing the demographics significantly.

At a press conference last Thursday, RÚV reports, Business Iceland CEO Þorsteinn Víglundsson told reporters that Iceland is effectively changing into an “immigrant nation”, and 15% of the population will likely be of foreign origin very soon. Currently, immigrants comprise about 10% of the population.

This change is due, he said, primarily to Icelanders leaving the job market as they get older, making it necessary for immigrants to fill vacant jobs in order to keep the economy afloat.

In fact, Icelanders are moving out of the country in increasing numbers as the remaining population gets older. About 10% of Icelanders are over the age of 70, and that number is projected to reach 20% by 2050.

“This means that we will need to move people into the country in a big way, compared to the way we’ve been doing it,” Þorsteinn said. “It is quite clear that if we’re moving in some two or three thousand people a year, this percentage [of immigrants] will change very fast. It could be at 15% by 2030. I think we should look positively at how we deal with this. How we can make it easier for people who move here to get settled in. We need to develop our immigration policies to deal with this reality.”

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