Immigration For Members

IN NUMBERS: What do new Danish stats tell us about immigrants at work and in education?

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
IN NUMBERS: What do new Danish stats tell us about immigrants at work and in education?
People at Nørreport Station in Copenhagen. Statistics Denmark has released a new report outlining the numbers of immigrants and their children in work and education. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Employment rates among people who have immigrated to Denmark from non-Western countries have increased since 2015, a new statistical analysis released on Tuesday shows. Children of Western immigrants were found to be faring well in secondary education.


National agency Statistics Denmark’s Indvandrere i Danmark i 2023 (”Immigrants in Denmark in 2023”) report shows that employment among male non-Western immigrants in 2021 was 69 percent in 2021.

That demonstrates an increase over a near ten-year period, from 53 percent in 2015.

For non-Western women, the employment frequency was 58 percent in 2021 compared to 45 percent in 2015.

Employment also increased for people of Danish heritage within the same time span. Danish men saw 81 percent employment in 2021, compared to 78 percent in 2015, while for women the two figures were 78 percent and 73 percent respectively.

As such, non-Western immigrants have closed the gap on their Danish counterparts with regard to employment, but still see lower levels overall.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s 'non-Western' immigrants triple parents’ earnings


Which sectors have the highest share of immigrant employees?

The sector with the highest proportion of male non-Western workers is hospitality, with over a third (37 percent) of staff being immigrants according to Statistics Denmark.

Some 23 percent of workers in agriculture are immigrants.

For women, the highest proportion of immigrant staff are seen in travel agencies, cleaning and other sectors which fall under the banner of “operational service”, with 33 percent. A single percentage point less, 32 percent, work in agriculture.

How do immigrants in Denmark fare in education?

The most successful groups in education, in terms of people who complete upper secondary school (Gymnasium) are Danish women and women whose parents are immigrants (efterkommere) from Western countries, the report states. These two demographics score the best average grades in their final exams.

For men, the same two groups – Danes and children of ‘Western’ immigrants – also get the best grades, but their average grades are lower than those for women.

The lowest grades are seen among the children of immigrants from non-Western countries, for both men and women.

Across Denmark, the proportion of immigrants and the children of immigrants in further education is 13 percent. Locally, the highest proportions of immigrants and their children in further education are seen in municipalities in and around Copenhagen, with lower proportions in Jutland and Funen.

Statistics Denmark, as well as many authorities and public agencies in Denmark categorise people considered not of Danish heritage into two groups: ‘immigrants’ and ‘descendants’ of immigrants (‘efterkommere’).

A person is considered to be Danish if she or he has at least one parent who is a Danish citizen and was born in Denmark. People defined as ‘immigrants’ and ‘descendants' do not fulfil those criteria. The difference between the two is that an ‘immigrant’ was born outside of Denmark, while a ‘descendant' was born in Denmark. 

Meanwhile, all EU countries along with Andorra, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Vatican are considered ‘Western’.

Everywhere else – all of Latin America, Africa and Asia – is ‘non-Western’.

The full Statistics Denmark report, Indvandrere i Danmark i 2023, can be read (in Danish) on the Statistics Denmark website.



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