Young Swedes leave Norway as oil boom ends

Young Swedes leave Norway as oil boom ends
The border between Sweden and Norway. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/
Young Swedes drawn to Norway by the high salaries on offer in restaurants, shops and bars, are starting to go home as their Nordic neighbour's oil-powered boom peters out.

According to new figures from Statistics Norway, between April and September more than 2,000 Swedes left Norway, while only 1,800 moved to the country.

If the downward trend continues until December, this year will mark the first since the millennium that the Scandinavian country has seen a net emigration of Swedes, as Sweden enjoys a growing economy.

“Swedes are susceptible to changes in the Norwegian and Swedish labour markets,” explained Lars Ostby, a demographer at Statistics Norway. “When the arrows go up in Sweden and down in Norway, it affects migration flows.”

Swedes are the second-largest immigrant group in Norway after the Poles, with 36,900 residents at the end of 2014, according to Statistics Norway.

According to a report by the University of Oslo's Frisch Centre, roughly a fifth of all workers in Norway between the age of 17 and 25 were Swedes in 2013 – a twenty-fold increase on the 1,300 working in the country in 1990.

READ ALSO: Show of strength from Swedish economy

The trend of Swedes moving to Norway to work, which peaked between 2011 and 2014, was even the subject of the award-winning Swedish film 'Svenskjävel' ('Underdog' in English), which follows a Swedish au pair who has an affair with her Norwegian employer.

Swedish woman Jennie Borg, 27, told Norway's Aftenposten newspaper that she was leaving as it was now easier to save money working in Sweden.

“Although I earn a few thousand more a month [in Norway] than at home, the cost of life is almost double,” said the IT worker.

“Over the past year the demand for labour in Norway has been much lower, while demand has been very high in Sweden,” Harald Magnus Andreassen, the chief Norway economist for Sweden's Swedbank, told Aftenposten.

“At the same time, wages in Norway are worth less compared to those in Sweden because of the exchange rate.”

“There have never been more vacancies than there are now in Sweden. There is simply much less reason to go to Norway,” Andreassen added.

Jobs in Sweden