Immigrants In Iceland: Paid Less For Same Work, While Accepting Fewer Social Benefits - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Immigrants In Iceland: Paid Less For Same Work, While Accepting Fewer Social Benefits

Published April 9, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

New data shows immigrants in Iceland are paid less than Icelanders for the same work, and the wage gap between immigrants and Icelanders is growing, even as immigration increases. At the same time, immigrants accept fewer social welfare benefits than Icelanders.

All this has been brought to light by publicly available information from Statistics Iceland. As Kjarninn reports, immigrants are on average paid 8% less than Icelanders for doing the same work. This is even after taking into account gender, age, education level, family situation and other factors.

When broken down by demographics, the data also shows that there is a strong racial component to the wage gap. Western European immigrants are paid 4% less than immigrants from a Nordic country, and immigrants from Eastern Europe are paid 6% less for the same work than their Nordic counterparts. Asian immigrants are paid less still than Nordics for the same work, as the wage gap in this instance is 7%.

Furthermore, even as immigration to Iceland continues to steadily rise, the wage gap between immigrants and locals is growing, in terms of what is classified as “other income”, i.e., primarily social welfare benefits from the state.

In fact, the average other income of Icelanders in 2017 was about 1.3 million ISK per year; amongst immigrants, it was 626,000 ISK, marking a difference of about 50%.

As reported, immigrants in Iceland comprise 13% of the total population, while at the same time comprising nearly 20% of the work force.

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