From Iceland — Immigrants Paid Less, Have Fewer Options Than Locally-Born Icelanders, Study Finds

Immigrants Paid Less, Have Fewer Options Than Locally-Born Icelanders, Study Finds

Published August 25, 2022

Photo by
Jabbi/Wikimedia Commons

Immigrants have lower wages than locally-born Icelanders, but they are no more dissatisfied with them, reports Fréttablaðið.

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A new report published today found women of foreign origin had a lower income than foreign men, but the difference in wages between the sexes was smaller than among natives.

Work experience had a significant positive effect on immigrants’ income, and immigrants who worked as experts or technicians had higher incomes than others. On the other hand, tradesmen, workers in the fishing industry, and those who worked in services had significantly lower incomes than other immigrants.

Six working factors

The report considers six factors: satisfaction with salary, job security, choice of job, opportunities for self-employment, stated salary, and happiness. According to the report’s findings, immigrants were only on par with natives in one respect, satisfaction with wages. In other respects, they fared worse, especially in terms of job security.

Between the years 2016-2017 and 2020, immigrants’ situation has become worse in the labour market, mostly in terms of job security. Various other living conditions also worsened, mainly regarding subsistence and various services. However, some things had improved, especially regarding rental apartments, the road network, and internet connections.

Population changes

According to Statistics Iceland’s population figures, immigrants make up 15% of the population as of January 2021, compared to only 1.9% in January 1996.

In 2018, most immigrants worked in the characteristic sectors of the tourism industry (27%), followed by manufacturing (18%), and jobs in the public sector (13%). By 2020, that ratio changed to most in production (20%) and the tourism industry (20%), then public services (18%).

The report also states that the possibilities for immigrants to start their own business in 2020 were poorer than for natives.

Single parents of foreign origin seemed to be in a particularly vulnerable position on the labour market. Immigrants living in more populous communities usually fared better on the labour market in 2020 than immigrants in less populous communities.

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