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Is Iceland Becoming a “Nation of Immigrants”?

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Is Iceland Becoming a “Nation of Immigrants”?

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The head of SA-Business Iceland, a service organization for Icelandic businesses, states that Iceland will in the near future become a nation of immigrants, RÚV reports. CEO Þorsteinn Víglundsson expressed this view at a press conference Thursday.

The composition of the nation is clearly changing and will continue to do so in coming years. The group aged 70 and older will be rapidly getting larger. This group now counts for 10 percent of the population, but is expected to be 20 percent of the nation around 2050. The trend in the rest of Europe is similar.

Because of expected economic growth in coming years, there will be a lack of labor in Iceland in Þorsteinn’s opinion. Assuming a 2.5 percent annual economic growth, there will be a lack of 2,000 people in the workforce a year, increasing the need for foreign labor.

Raising the retirement age or having students graduate at an earlier age would not be sufficient to meet the increased demand for labor. Þorsteinn told reporters we need to be prepared for a transformation into a nation of immigrants.

Last year, people of foreign origin made up eight percent of the total population, he said. “Clearly, if we’re going to import 2,000 or even 3,000 people a year, this proportion will change very fast,” Þorsteinn stated. “It could be 15 percent as soon as in 2030. I believe we need to look at it with a positive attitude how we’re going to respond. How do we make it easier for people who come here to get settled? And how do we develop our immigration policy in response to this reality?”

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