Learning About Illegals: Issues and Methods (2008)

Research with irregular migrants in Norway. Methodological and ethical challenges and emerging research agnedas. Developing Methods for Determining the Nunmber of Unauthorized Foreigners in Norway.

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Learning About Illegals: Issues and Methods (pdf, 809 kB)


In this publication the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) presents two reports on issues and methods that are relevant for learning about people residing illegally in Norway. How many are there; why do they come and stay; what is their demographic profile (nationalities, age, sex, family circumstances); how do they cope (with health, education and shelter); how do they earn a living (who employs them, what do they do and what are their working conditions)? These issues are important both for the authorities that regulate immigration and for those responsible for other public services, including the prevention and punishment of criminal activities. Thus it is important to have effective methods of obtaining the best possible replies to these and related questions: it is important for the various authorities as well as for the individuals themselves.

The two research reports presented here address issues related to how to estimate the number of unauthorized foreigners in Norway as well as how to contact members of this group in order to be able to describe their motivation for staying in Norway and the circumstances surrounding their stay. UDI has provided the funding for these studiesthrough its research and development budget. The studies have been carried out by researchers at Statistics Norway (SSB) and the research institute Fafo. The views and opinions expressed in these reports are those of the researchers and do not necessarily represent those of SSB, Fafo, UDI or other Norwegian authorities. However, that the work has been carried out in SSB and Fafo respectively represents a guarantee for the quality of the research methods used. However, UDI intends to examine the recommendations made and carefully consider whether and how they may be effectively implemented.

The first report discusses ethical and operational challenges that need to be addressed when trying to learn more about the motivation and circumstances of people residing illegally in Norway, especially as these issues relate to children. It is expected that UDI and other government authorities, as well as national NGOs, will continue working to learn more about these circumstances, in order to provide a better basis for concrete actions as well as for evaluating policies. 

The second report provides a methodological basis for UDI to prepare estimates on the number of people residing illegally in the country. The model presented also provides UDI a means of estimating the precision (how valid the results are) of the results. This will in turn provide a basis for evaluating the direction in which this number is moving; i.e. is it increasing or decreasing over time? However, the report also makes clear that UDI will need to discuss how to improve the quality and timeliness of the data that have been used for these estimates with the National Police Directorate (POD) and SSB. UDI intends to respond to this challenge.

Carried out by: Fafo og SSB

Commisioned by: UDI

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