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Integration in Denmark - Statistics & Facts

Since World War II, and especially since the 1980s, Denmark registered a higher number of immigrants than emigrants. For several decades, most of the immigrants arrived from non-western countries, but since several Eastern European countries joined the European Union in the mid 2000s, more people from these started immigrating to Denmark. For instance, as of the beginning of 2022, the largest number of immigrants residing in Denmark were Polish. However, the number of people immigrating to Denmark decreased after peaking in 2015. This is mainly because the number of immigrants from outside the EU has fallen rapidly since then, a development further spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, Danish governments, both social democratic and liberal-conservative, have sharpened asylum laws significantly, setting a target of zero asylum applications.

Lower employment rates among immigrants and descendants

Denmark has not received as much media attention for a lack of integration as its neighbor Sweden, and is often considered to be one of the European countries with a more successful integration policy. However, there are significant differences between the part of the population with a Danish origin and the part with a foreign background. For instance, while people of Danish origin had an employment rate of 77 percent in 2020, immigrants from western countries had an employment rate below 70 percent. Moreover, it was less than 60 percent among immigrants from non-western countries. The differences are not only visible between Danes and foreign citizens, but also between different groups among immigrants; unemployment rates tend to be higher among foreign women than men, and the same rate was more than nine percentage points higher among people with an African origin than those from Oceania.

As the number of immigrants living in Denmark increased, so has the number of pupils and students in education. For instance, whereas 2.6 percent of the pupils in primary and lower secondary school were immigrants in 2011, nearly five percent were immigrants in 2021. Also the number of students completing a master's degree who were born outside of Denmark increased significantly over the past 10 years. Interestingly, the share of immigrants who had completed a master's degree is higher than it is among among people of Danish origin.

Higher poverty rates among foreigners

Differences between the Danish-born and foreign-born population could also be observed when looking at the living conditions in Denmark, but the differences were clear between people born within and outside of the EU, too: Nearly 30 percent of the latter lived at risk of poverty, whereas only 18 percent of people from EU-countries did the same. Moreover, over 12 percent of the population born abroad lived at risk of material and social deprivation, compared to less than six percent of Danes.

Despite these differences, the social inclusion of immigrants and their ancestors in Denmark seemed to be improving in the years before COVID-19 hit the country, making it more difficult to meet in associations or political parties. While the share is still higher among the population with a Danish origin, around 50 percent of immigrants and their descendants from non-western countries are a member of an association in the country, and more than 60 percent are politically active.

Interesting statistics

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


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