Immigration, Integration, Administration – On Categories in Official Danish Statistics
V. E. Boolsen. July 2006
The “Cartoon crisis” appeared all of a sudden, and came as a great surprise to most of the rest of the
world. Denmark has a reputation for being not only a small, but also a very peaceful country, with a
great tolerance. Who does not remember what did the Danes during WWII, when a united Danish
population saved most of its Jews and brought them to safety across the waters in neighbouring
Sweden?1 Who would have thought that the Danish counterpart to the Michael Howard “cricket
test” would be a test in Danishness that amounted to finding out whether Muslims in Denmark
could stand “spite, derision and ridicule” of the Prophet Mohammed, because they apparently took
such matters seriously?2
Since 1973 – the year of the “Oil crisis” and soaring unemployment - there has been put a legal stop
to immigration into Denmark. By then, there were less than 100.000 immigrants and foreigners
residing in Denmark, and the population was roughly 4,2 million. Some of these had come as “guest
workers” mostly from Turkey and (the former)Yugoslavia at the invitation of employers. They were
mostly young, single men, who did unskilled jobs of all sorts. But Denmark unfortunately had also
committed itself though international legislation to take in refugees – and that, together with family
reunion, contributed to the recent figure: 8,4 per cent of the Danish population of currently 5,4
million consists of immigrants and their descendents. Roughly 425.000 out of a population of now
5,4 million.are Immigrants and their Descendents These are the official statistical figures.
Migration is not a political problem pertaining to Denmark only – in spite of the rhetoric of the
Danish People’s Party, which supports the present Liberal-Conservative government and provides
its majority in the Danish Parliament, Folketinget. It is an international issue, as is seen in the UN
Report on International Migration, June 9, 2006, as basis for a conference on International
Migration September 14 & 15, 2006. In this report there is the following recommendation:
“99. Policy responses would likely remain inadequate without sound
information on levels, trends, characteristics, impacts and other aspects of
international migration, including data by age, sex, origin, educational
attainment and occupation. The availability and quality of statistics on
international migration, return migration and remittances must continue to
“100. National statistical offices and other government entities producing
international migration data based on administrative records should work
towards ensuring that the data refer to persons and not to the documents issued,
that double counting is avoided and that information on the characteristics of
migrants (especially on their origin, level of education, type of occupation and
sex) become part of a routine programme of data dissemination.”
In conclusion to an inquiry into this rescue operation, Michael Mogensen et al. concludes that “those involved can be
counted in their hundreds and not thousands”. Mogensen et al., 2002.
Summer 2003, Coop-Denmark was forced to withdraw some flip-flop sandals depicting Jesus and Mary, because there
were protests against them for being offensive. This matter was settled out of court.
From this, we can infer that “evidence” on migration is statistics on migration, and that national
statistics can be generated in two ways: from administrative records and from National Statistics
offices. In the following, I give examples of both. But it must be emphasized that the statistical
categories presented in this paper are there for a reason; it testifies to policies of migration and the
political problems pertaining to this. Thus the categories are not derived out of the blue; it is my
thesis that such categories are ultimately politically determined, and testify to political problems and
their administrative solutions. It is not only that you count, it is what you count.
How has Denmark taken the challenge of becoming a multicultural society? It has tackled it by
issuing an Act on Integration, January 1999, with subsequent revisions. Moreover, it was the legal
basis for a special Ministry of Integration. What is integration according to the Act? The following:
“§ 1: (Section 1): The purpose of this Act is though an achievement of integration to
1) contribute to newly arrived aliens be secured the possibility of participating – on an
equal footing with other citizens – in Danish society’s political, economic, working,
social, religious and cultural life,
2) contribute to newly arrived aliens’ becoming able to provide for their own livelihood,
3) equip each alien with an understanding of the basic values and norms of Danish
According to the Aliens Office, 2004, “The Integration Act has four categories of exemption from
the Immigration stop, that is, four kinds of aliens who have a right or have legally obtained one of
residing in Denmark for a longer period.
These four main groups are:
1) Nordic citizens,
2) Aliens with a need for international protection (asylum)
3) Aliens with close family relatives in Denmark (family reunion) and
4) Aliens who wish to work or study in Denmark or one of the EU-countries.”
This Integration Act is administered by local authorities, but the Aliens Office –
Udlændingestyrelsen – allots quotas of immigrants for integration so as to secure an even
distribution among the various boroughs. In principle, none gets by without a share of them. Last
year, for instance, the Borough of Gentofte – the Hampstead of Copenhagen – had twenty-six
coming. The problem is mostly housing; some boroughs have almost nowhere to put them up,
because they have nothing like the equivalence of council housing.4 The Aliens Office says that in
The point is that it is impossible to gather what is integration from the Act – there are simply no criteria of it to be
In Denmark, Mutual Associations have traditionally taken care of health and housing. It was not until 1973 the Danish
NHS was established instead of the “Syge-kasse” – a “kasse” being a box. Each member contributed a membership
sum, and in return received free primary care. Hospitals then were only public, and there are still only a few private
hospitals. The same holds for housing. You paid a sum to get on a waiting list, thus becoming a member of an
Association, and then you could have a flat when there were a vacancy. Local authorities can put in needy tenants in
every one out of four vacancies. The Labour Movement in Denmark has been the traditional driving force behind this
sector of housing – it is thus a semi-public solution in effect, because these Associations also receive public funding for
building and maintaining the housing. Most of the housing is in flats. During the 1960’ and 1970’s, the boroughs to the
the distributing of quotas concern is taken as to how easy it will be for immigrants to find
employment suited to their qualifications. But here is a problem, according to the Ministry’s “Think
Tank on Integration”, 2001, namely the following (p. 9):
“Unfortunately, experience so far shows that many immigrants from the so-called third-countries
(that is, countries outside of the Nordic, the EU and North America ) – have not been able to
become employed, and immigration for the time being comes precisely from such countries. It is
too difficult to enter the Danish labour market if one comes as an immigrant with a very limited
formal basic education, without any knowledge of the Danish language, and without any of the
cultural or social competences that are valid on the Danish labour market.”
In short, what makes integration so difficult is mostly that it is the wrong kind of immigrants that
enter. The Think Tank therefore outlined seven criteria of successful integration (p. 11):
“Knowledge of Danish and Education, Employment, Self-provision, Absence of Discrimination,
Contact between Danes and Foreigners on a daily basis, Participation in Political life, Basic values
and norms. – Among these latter belong a respect for democracy and the liberty rights of the
citizens, to be law abiding, the acknowledgement of the equal right of every human being, and
tolerance regarding others’ values and norms. “
So, tolerance is a Danish value- cf. the quotation by Flemming Rose above. Together with learning
Danish as spoken by Danes, that is part of the Introduction course of three years now offered to
There is only negligible discrimination in Denmark, according to the most recent official figures
submitted in a report to the UN, June 2006, related to the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
“63. The Act on Prohibition of Discrimination on the Labour Market etc. has been
amended by Act. No 253 of 7 April 2004 due to implementation of the EU directive 2000/43. Since
2000, there have been three Danish Court-cases. All three cases concerned questions of indirect
discrimination of Muslim women insisting on wearing head cover on job. The first case concerned
a practical trainee work in a department store. The employer rejected to employ the woman as a
trainee. The High Court sentenced the employer a fine for infringement of the discrimination act.
The second case concerned an employee at a chocolate factory wishing to wear a scarf instead of a
hat as required according to company regulations. The employer was acquitted by the High Court.
However, afterwards the employee and the employer jointly designed a head cover that met the
safety requirements of the company as well as the religious needs of the employee. In the third
case, the Supreme Court dealt with the same issue and found that the company regulations, which
banned any kind of head cover and required a neutral appearance in a large supermarket-chain, were
legitimate and did not constitute indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion. The Supreme
Court thus acquitted the employer.”
On this background, nothing can feasibly account for the following figures:(Ministry of Integration,
Yearbook 2005, p. 15):
South and West of Copenhagen saw most of the newly built housing estates. There were therefore a lot of vacant, new
flats, and consequently low-income earners were put up there, including the former guest-workers.
“January 1, 2004, the frequency of occupation among immigrants and descendents from non-
Western countries was 46 per cent, whereas it was 62 per cent among immigrants and descendents
from Western countries. That of Danes was 76 per cent.”
Now, how can that be? Better ask the Minister at the time, Bertel Haarder, since he – in contrast to
the Report by the ECRI of the European Council, February 2002 – states what is based on evidence
and not anecdotal hearsay, which would consequently amount to little more than an essay with a
bias. Bertel Haarder, as Minister of Integration, has the following, evidence-based explanation:
“Ordinary Danes are exposed to various kinds of social control. Among other things, we go to
work, because we take into account what our family and our neighbours would say, and
because we would like to be a good example to our children. But aliens do not have such
inhibitions. They live in a sub-culture outside the Danish tribe. That is why they are very
quick to learn about the possibility of receiving money without making an effort… Our
welfare state has become handicapped by uncontrolled immigration, and I would like to
testify that the systems in Denmark do not function when everybody have become entitled to
welfare benefits, also those for whom they were not intended. “5
Since 2002, newly arrived immigrants are entitled to start allowance, which amounts to about half
the amount of social benefit. There is no discrimination here – it pertains to all immigrants,
regardless of citizenship, thus also those with Danish citizenship who return. This is allegedly done
so as provide them with an incentive to find employment as soon as possible. Likewise, the local
authorities are rewarded if immigrants find ordinary employment – not some scheme or with wage-
substitute, etc. – or start on a formal education when still on the Introductory course. The incentive
to the boroughs is DKR 33.00 for employment, and DKR 28.000 for education. Both of these
remove immigrants from the unemployment statistics, and from benefit and allowance6.
Fortunately, when it comes to statistics generated by the Aliens Office, there is now a trend showing
that the number of applications for asylum and family reunion, including marriage, is steadily
decreasing. It is now down to 3235 all in all7. The problems with new immigrants are therefore
steadily diminishing, and Denmark takes its UN-quota of refugees: 500 a year, hence it complies
with its international obligations. Immigration and integration can thus be administratively
As quoted in Politiken, June 15, 2006.
Students quality for grants and loans on a general scheme. Although grants and loans to students are also income
substitutes – and amounts to almost as much as the official pension for Old Age Citizens – they are considered a social
investment in future qualifications and not simply money out of the public purse.
In 2001, the number was as high as roughly 15,000.
A Statistical Novelty: Immigrants and their Descendents
Since integration is so difficult for immigrants in Denmark – in spite of its tolerance – it is only fair
that proper track are kept of them. And that has created a novelty among classifications in statistics,
albeit not an original Danish one; the Norwegian Statistical Office has the same classifications. It
subdivides into Danes, Immigrants and their Descendents. Not only do some immigrants have a
higher fertility rate, hence more children, but they also are bi-lingual – their mother tongue is
another than Danish – and live together in impoverished areas, where crime is high. Consequently,
some of the immigrants become criminal offenders; and if they are not deported, then at least the
verdict is that crime does not contribute to integration. I shall return to the criminal statistics in the
In Denmark, the Aliens Office keep records of foreign citizens in Denmark, who reside legally, that
is, who have become registered as residents in Denmark. Everyone residing legally in Denmark is
given a ten-digit number on a card, and are recorded in the Central Person Register, or CPR for
short. The first six digits record date, month, and year of birth – the last four are unique to every
person, telling them apart, with odd numbers for males and even numbers for females. The statistics
generated by the Aliens Office obviously only record the number of legal immigrants, therefore of
Foreign Citizens residing in Denmark.
From 1983, the demographic statistics has been issued by Statistics Denmark in a separate series
with the title: Population and elections. But it is not until 1987 we find a new set of tables – six in
all – as Publication no. 11, and with the heading: Foreign Citizens in Denmark by January 1,
1987 and Foreign Migrations 1986.
The reason for this novelty is the following:
“During the last years there has been an increasing interest for information on the number of foreign
citizens with residence in Denmark. That is why some information on this issue has been assembled
in this paper. They are distributed on citizenship, age, sex and geographical distribution. Since
foreign migration is closely connected with the number of foreign citizens this paper also contains
tables on migration among foreign citizens for the year 1986. There is also an overview on
naturalisations during the period 1980-1986 and an account of foreign citizens 1980-1986.” (p. 3)8
The account shows there is a net-immigration among foreigners, in spite of some of them
emigrating. There are six tables in all, including that on naturalisations. In the latest volume in the
series there are sixteen different tables. In order to obtain Danish citizenship, you must be a resident
in Denmark for eight years9. Consequently, after eight years of residence some immigrants apply
for and obtain citizenship and become Naturalised Danes. Parliament passes a Naturalisation Act bi-
annually, which confirms the granting of citizenship. It was then unconditional, but since 2003 a
It follows that record of foreign citizens in Denmark has been kept since 1980, although no statistics has been
published before 1986. This illustrates the political problem that although figures are circulated in political debates,
there may be two kinds: the published and the unpublished figures. Their categories may differ, hence making
comparison and judgement of validity impossible.
Royalty is the exception to this: both Princesses, the Crown Princess as well as The Countess of Fredriksborg, both got
their citizenship long before eight years of residence.
certified Danish test – in Danish language and culture - has been the condition for successful
And when it comes to integration, it is precisely naturalisation, which is the problem. If Immigrants
are Aliens, then the reason why they are not integrated is that they are the only thing aliens can be:
undesirable. How can we get the figures right, then? By adding a new table: Foreign Citizens
residing in Denmark and Persons born Abroad – which was introduced in 1989. Now, both
naturalised Danes and immigrants proper could be brought under the same heading in the same
table to show what they were: Aliens.
That recording according to citizenship was a statistical problem in relation to the Aliens Statistics
was stated when the first tables on Immigrants and their Descendents were issued as a special
volume in 1991. Here, the head of the Statistics Denmark, Hans Zeuthen, then rigsstatistiker, said
“p. 6] Statistics on Foreigners
Traditionally, statistics on foreigners has been based on summary of the number of foreign citizens
on a given point in time, just as these have been considered sufficient to describe this groups of the
population, and to cover the entire group of immigrants. But this has proven itself to be inadequate
during the 1980’s.
“A number of persons have changed their citizenship in course of time, from foreign into Danish.
This group of persons are often discussed concerning foreigners without there being any possibility
of shedding light on how many of these who have died or emigrated during the time after they have
become naturalised Danes. Those of their children who are born in Denmark cannot be counted,
since they are Danish citizens, born in Denmark.
“These lacks made Statistics Denmark to supplement the citizenship-base with one of country of
origin or birth. But also this criterion has its weak spots. There are, after all, also Danish citizens,
born of parents with temporary residence abroad, and they must count as “being born abroad”. “
But since place of birth is now that which subdivides the Danish population, together with
citizenship, it is possible to sort out immigrants and their descendents from the Danes proper. At
least we now can find out to what extent aliens-to-become-integrated are a problem. A Foreign
Citizen is an Immigrant- but an Immigrant can also be a Danish citizen; it all comes down to place
of birth – of your parents. If the parents are born outside of Denmark, and are Danish residents, then
that person is a Descendent of Immigrants. That is problematic; not only is that person from a
household where Danish is not exclusively spoken, the person may even be bi-lingual, and have a
host of other social problems besides.
Since the first statistics on Immigrants and their Descendents, the tables herein have become
included in Population and Elections from 1995 onwards. Since 1994 there has also been a table
on Asylum Seekers and Permits of Residence granted. The figures for this are provided courtesy
of the Aliens Office.
It takes a special outlook to create these categories on Immigrants and their Descendents, namely
the following: (Immigrants and Their Descendents, 1991, Statistics Denmark, p.10):
“As we assume that all information on the persons and their parents can be found10, and that there
are only two countries: Denmark and Abroad, we shall define sense of belonging to group from
country of birth and citizenship, and the same information on the parents.
“All persons born abroad are potential immigrants, and all persons born in Denmark are potential
Descendents. From the potential immigrants and descendents we shall limit the part of the
population we assume to be Danish. This limitation is done from the information on the parents.”
Danish is therefore initially a residual category – it is what is left once the immigrants and their
descendents have been subtracted from the total population.
But this is not the way in which is presented in the Statistics Denmark. Here we have the following
“Danes are persons who have at least one parent who is a Danish citizen born in Denmark,
regardless of this person’s own country of birth or citizenship.
Immigrants are persons who are born abroad, whose two parents are foreign citizens or born
Descendents are persons born in Denmark of parents who both are not Danish.”
But this still was not sufficiently clear, so the definition was changed once the Immigrants and
Descendents Tables found their way in to Population and Election:
“Immigrants are persons born abroad, whose two parents (or one in case there are no information
on the other) are foreign citizens or born abroad. If there is no information on either of the parents,
and the person is born abroad, the person is also classified as immigrant.
Descendents are persons born in Denmark to parents neither of whom are Danish citizens born in
Denmark. If there is no information of either of the parents, and the person is a foreign citizen, the
person is likewise classified as descendent.”11
This does not suffice for the Ministry of Integration, which has slightly changed it to the following:
(Danish Ministry of Integration, Yearbook 2005, p. 11):
“A person is a Dane if at least one of his/her parents are both Danish citizens and born in
Denmark. Thus it does not matter whether the person him/herself is a Danish citizen or born in
If a person is not a Dane, then this person is either
From the establishment of the CPR-register and until it was changed by law in 1978, all reference to parents was
deleted once a person became legally of age, at age 18. Some of these references have later been restored. (Immigrants
and their Descendents, 1991, p. 12)
Statistics Denmark, homepage, and publications on Population and Election since 1995.
- an Immigrant, if the person is born abroad, or
- a Descendent, if the person is born in Denmark
(If there is no information on the parents, then the person is Danish provided the person is a Danish
citizen and born in Denmark. The person is an immigrant, if born abroad, and a descendent, if the
person is a foreign citizen born in Denmark. )
“Immigrants and descendents remain immigrants and descendents even if they acquire Danish
“It is essential to note that the definitions from Statistics Denmark are purely statistical definitions
of immigrants, descendents and Danes, and that the definition does not take into account to what
degree the person has become integrated into Danish society. For instance, the group of immigrants
and descendents will comprise some who seem to be fully integrated in Denmark and who have
been residents here for years. .. The statistical definition is only used for statistical purposes; it thus
has no legal or value implications. “
The postscript underlines the lack of moral and legal implications for such classification. It is only
administratively helpful. And immigrants and descendents are a burden to public expenditure after
all – not least to local authorities who have to try and integrate them.
Criminal Statistics –
We have seen that aliens in Denmark so far mostly are lazy and don’t work, that they are bi-lingual,
etc. Why do they come to Denmark otherwise? How do they sustain life? Answer: foreigners are
criminal – at least more criminal than are the natives.
No question of keeping this in the dark – until substantiated by statistics, it is only hearsay and
prejudice. So, since 1997 the Criminal Statistics – another administrative off-spin, this time from
the police – has generated the following two tables: Table 4.5 on Decisions, 1997, by Nationality
of Offender – on the following offences: The Penal Code (total), The Traffic Act; Special Laws,
Sexual offences. Violent offences, Crimes against Property, Traffic Offences, Narcotics Act.
And that is not all – there is also Table 4.6: Decisions, 1997, by National Origin of Offender.
This has the following categories: , Danish citizen, Asylum seeker, Foreigner with illegal
residence, Foreigners with legal Residence, Tourists and foreigners with visa, Non-disclosed
(the last category does not register citizenship, and is therefore rather great but of no help when it
comes to how foreigners drive! Violation of traffic is not broken down on citizenship.).
Come the first three months of this year, 2006, and we find 161 Immigrants and Descendents have
been sentenced. This gives them a higher frequency of crime than the (statistical) Danes.
The Minister of Justice, Lene Espersen, did not take much time before her comments were that “we
now see the “little-brother generation” taking after the “older-brother generation.” – they form
criminal gangs. T%his must be prevented, as it has been successfully in the past.
Aliens in Denmark are criminals, that is, when faced with an alien there is a higher statistical
chance of the person being criminal than with a statistical Dane.
What is it immigrants in Denmark have immigrated in to? It is a country in which the population is
among the happiest in the world, at least according to a survey conducted among the EU-countries,
based on more than 30,000 interviews. It is a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the
world, and in which 245.000 of the population are on anti-depressants. It is a country that holds the
human rights high, including that of freedom of religion.
Unfortunately, there are no official figures on how many different religions there are in Denmark.
Statistics Denmark has no record of that since 2001 – and until then, only Protestants, Roman
Catholics, Reformed, and various other varieties of Christianity were published, together with the
number of Jews, based on Membership of congregations. There were never published figures on
how many Muslims there are in Denmark, for instance. The Ministry of the Church, which
administers the Danish People’s Church (the official variant of a Lutheran church, with the Queen
as head) is said to have some figures, but they must be insecure since they only record membership
of various mosques, etc.
The Think Tank had some considerations on what is integration – apart from employment: (p. 6):
“In a lot of the remarks we have received, it is pointed out to us that it is difficult to establish
cultural goals of a successful integration. We are aware of this, but our assessment is that it must be
an integral part of a successful integration that foreigners assume and live in accordance with some
basic values and norms in Denmark. But according to our conception it is not the goal of successful
integration if what happens is a cultural assimilation, that is, that a foreigner abandons his original
culture, including their religion, dress-code and food-culture. “
The problem is, however, that administration according to such guidelines are not outlined in the
Integration Act –since it does not specify what is integration. That creates some administrative
problems, not to say impossibility of setting targets for successful integration. Perhaps we can
consider it a specific Danish “norm and value” that they emphasize it is only their conception.
There may be others -