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Migration in Denmark - statistics & facts

Denmark was mainly characterized by emigration until World War I. Just as in neighboring Sweden, a high number of people left the country, mainly to North America, in search of a better life. However, whereas both emigration and immigration was low during both World Wars and the Interwar Period, immigration to the country started to increase from the 1960s. Especially from the 1980s, the number of immigrants arriving in the Nordic county started growing, with a high number of asylum seekers and refugees among these. The number of immigrants to Denmark peaked in 2015, when nearly 100,000 people immigrated to the country, a number mainly driven by the Syrian Civil War and the high number of refugees arriving in Europe as a result.

Tightening asylum laws

However, since 2015 and the high number of refugees applying for asylum in Denmark, the country's government has implemented some of the tightest asylum laws in Europe. For instance, in 2021, a bill was introduced that opened for deporting asylum seekers to detention centers in countries outside Europe while their applications are being processed, and it was also one of the first European countries to declare parts of Syria safe in 2021 after the Civil War, meaning that asylum seekers who had their applications rejected could be returned to the country. As a result of these policies, but also because routes for refugees to Europe have been closed during the past years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Denmark decreased rapidly since 2015. Moreover, from 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made migration even more difficult, causing the number to decrease further.

The tightened asylum policies are reflected in the residence permits granted by the authorities. In 2021, only a little less than 1,400 of the 75,000 residence permits granted in the country were given to asylum seekers. Of these, the majority came fromEritrea.

High immigration from Europe

Even though the total number of immigrants arriving in Denmark decreased over the past years as the number of asylum seekers declined, more than 76,000 people immigrated to Denmark in 2021. Most of these came from other European countries. As a member of the European Union, people form other member countries can work and live in the country without applying for a work or residence permit. As a result, the largest group of immigrants living in Denmark are Polish. Moreover, the number of people emigrating from Denmark increased until COVID-19 caused the number to decrease significantly.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Migration in Denmark".


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