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Immigrant Proportion of Icelandic Population Grew in 2014

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Immigrant Proportion of Icelandic Population Grew in 2014

Reykjavík zoo

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The number of foreign citizens residing in Iceland grew from 21,446 in 2013 to 22,744 in 2014, an increase of 1,298 individuals. If the second generation of immigrants is included, the total number was 30,979, representing approximately 9.5 percent of the total population, up from 9.1 percent in 2013, according to a new report published by the Icelandic Multicultural Centre.

In 2013 immigrants outnumbered emigrants for the first time since 2008. 1,634 more non-citizens immigrated than emigrated, while 36 more Icelanders emigrated than immigrated (returned to the country after living abroad).

Most immigrants come from Poland, 10,224 people, or 45 percent of the total immigrant population. Most immigrants live in the Reykjavík metropolitan area, or 14,091, but proportionally most live in the West Fjords and on Reykjanes peninsula, representing 13 percent of the total population in those areas.

Thirty-two percent of women who sought help at the Women’s Shelter in Reykjavík in 2014 were of non-Icelandic origin; 11 percent from countries outside of the European Economic Area and 21 percent from within.

Seventy-eight percent of perpetrators were Icelandic, while 22 percent were of foreign citizenship, whereas 16.9 percent of cases investigated by the Agency for Child Protection in 2013 involved children of an international background, a substantial increase from prior years.

The number of children with foreign citizenship in Icelandic schools and pre-schools has grown significantly over the past decade. In 2004 1,150 non-citizen children attended Icelandic pre-schools and 1,369 attended Icelandic primary schools.

In 2014 those numbers were 2,181 and 2,775; an increase of 52 and 49 percent, respectively. Significant disparities were found between the secondary-school attendance and graduation levels of immigrant and native-born youth.

Of those non-citizen children who began attending secondary school in the fall of 2004, only 16.9 percent had graduated within four years, compared to 58.2 percent of Icelandic children.

One-hundred-seventy-one individuals applied for asylum in Iceland in 2013, of which 11 were granted asylum and one was granted a residence permit for humanitarian reasons.

The median wage in Iceland in 2012 was ISK 432,000 (USD 3,190, EUR 2,920), and 30 percent of all employees earned wages between ISK 350,000 and 450,000 (USD 2,580-3,320, EUR 2,370-3,050).

At the same time 69 percent of Polish and Thai immigrants earned less than ISK 300,000 (USD 2,210, EUR 2,030) and only 9 percent of all immigrants earned at least ISK 400,000 (USD 2,950, EUR 2,710).

Unemployment rates were similarly substantially higher among immigrants than native Icelanders. In 2014 the average unemployment rate of the population as a whole was 3.5 percent, but 3.1 percent for native Icelanders and 7.5 percent for immigrants.

Polish immigrants had the highest rate of unemployment, on average 10.4 percent, or three times that of native Icelanders.

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