Migracijske i Etniĉke Teme (Sep 2004)

Migrations in Norway and in Other Scandinavian Countries

  • Nils Olav Ǿstrem

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20, no. 2-3
pp. 207 – 219


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The article gives an overview of migration movements in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. The overview most of all focuses on history, but gives also comments on the present situation. The quantitative dimension of Norwegian and Scandinavian emigration in different periods is dealt with, but the article also discusses cultural circumstances in connection with emigration from and immigration to this north European region. Emigration started earlier in Norway than in the other Scandinavian or Nordic countries. Of the Scandinavian countries, “it was only from Norway that emigration to America took place on a larger scale during the 1850s”. Sweden and Denmark “during the 1860s … entered a stage of massive emigration which culminated during the 1880s”. Emigration from Iceland started later, but the country experienced “a veritable flood during the 1880s”, at the same time as Eastern and Western Europe. Finland did not reach “great numbers until the initial decades of the 20th century.” The reasons for emigration from the Scandinavian countries have in traditional migration studies been linked to economic and social factors. In this article, based on the author’s thesis on emigration from the local parish Skjold in Rogaland county, Norway, from 1837 to 1914, the focus is on the cultural factor when discussing underlying causes of Nordic mass emigration. By using the term emigrant culture – a personification of the migrants – a way to employ the individual psychological or motive factor is attempted. Considering migration a process of two sides also strengthens the cultural or psychological individual factor.