Since the beginning of the century, the reasons for which foreign nationals are granted residency in Denmark have changed considerably, according to a new report by national agency Statistics Denmark.
Over 48 percent of foreign nationals who moved to Denmark with a residence permit in 2021 did so for the purpose of working in the country.
That is the highest level in the last 20 years.
“During the last 20 years there has been a steep increase of immigration of persons who do not have Danish or Nordic citizenship, only briefly interrupted in 2020 because of Covid-19,” Statistics Denmark senior consultant Jørn Korsbø Petersen said in a press statement.
“But the reason for the immigrants’ residence has changed a lot during this period and last year almost half came to Denmark due to work,” Petersen said.
Data from back in 1997 show that during that year, half of the 21,264 people who were issued residency in Denmark arrived for asylum or family reunification reasons, with 32 percent moving for work or study.
In 2021, those proportions had shifted with 70 percent of the total 52,736 arrivals for reasons of either work or study.
Just 1 percent of residence permits were given for asylum with 5 percent granted family reunification.
The primary reason for that change is the increase in people moving to Denmark from other EU countries, according to Statistics Denmark.
Since 1997, a number of new countries including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania have joined the EU, with immigration from these countries to Denmark for work reasons subsequently increasing.
Nationals of EU countries can freely move to Denmark to work under the right to free movement guaranteed by EU membership. Citizens of other countries do not have the same rights and must fulfil stringent criteria to be granted residency in the Nordic country.
That is reflected by the data, Statistics Denmark notes. Of the 25,500 persons who immigrated to Denmark for work reasons in 2021, 19,500 were EU or EEA citizens.
The numbers show that the demand for labour in Denmark is “almost insatiable” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Tore Stramer, the senior economist with the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv).
“Foreign labour has been a very important lifeline for Danish businesses at this conjuncture,” he said.
“If businesses had not been able to recruit foreign labour, the economic recovery after the corona crisis would have been significantly harder,” he said in a written comment.