The labour force consists of employed and unemployed persons who are available for work on the labour market. There is a smaller percentage of foreign born persons than native born persons in the labour force in the Nordic countries. Finland is an exception, where a larger share of foreign born men are in the labour force than native born men.
The difference between native born and foreign born persons is higher among women than among men. The greatest difference between the native born and foreign born is among women in Sweden, and the least difference exists among men in Norway and Finland.
The share of the population in the labour force decreased between 2008 and 2012 in Denmark, Finland and Norway. The decrease affected both native and foreign born persons, with the exception of foreign born women in Denmark. However, a larger share of the population in Sweden was part of the labour force in 2012 compared to 2008.
Employed persons consist of employees and self-employed persons and assisting family members. The employment rate, i.e. the number of employed as a percentage of the population, is generally higher for native born than foreign born persons. During the 2000s, the employment rate of native born persons in Denmark, Norway and Sweden has been about 80 percent. The employment rate among persons born in Finland has been lower than in other Nordic countries. Iceland had the highest employment rate among native born persons, but since employ- ment fell in 2009 had an employment rate more in line with the other Nordic countries.
The employment rate for foreign born persons born during the 2000s has been lower than that for native born persons. The employment for foreign born persons has increased for foreign born persons during this period, and the differences between native and foreign born persons decreased slightly.
Iceland is the only country where foreign born persons in some years had a higher employment rate than native born persons. It was also the only country where foreign born persons had a lower employment rate in 2012 compared with 2000.
The employment rate is higher for men than for women in all the Nordic countries. The difference in employment rates between men and women is greater among foreign born than among native born persons. The employment rate for foreign born men is about 10 percentage points higher than the rate for foreign born women. For native born persons, the difference between men and women is about 5 percentage points.
The employment index is a measure of the difference in employment rates between native and foreign born persons.
An index of 100 means that the employment rate is equally high among native and foreign born persons. Index values lower than 100 mean that employment is lower for foreign born than for native born persons.. Values higher than 100 mean that employment is higher for foreign born than for native born per- sons. The difference between 100 and the index value is called the employment gap.
Iceland is the only Nordic country where employment in the 2000s has remained fairly constant among native and foreign born persons. Other countries have an index below 100. The employment gap is larger in Denmark and Sweden than in the other countries.
The employment gap between native and foreign born persons has varied over the years, but in 2012 all countries except Iceland had a smaller employment gap than in 2000. However, in many cases, these changes have been small.
Employment rates differ between foreign born persons from different regions. Those born in another Nordic country or in the EU countries generally have a relatively high employment rate. The lowest employment rate is found among persons born in Africa, followed by those born in Asia.
Employment rates are lower among native born persons with two foreign born parents than among native born persons with at least one native born parent. There is no clear pattern in the level of employment related to the country from which the parents came; instead, the Nordic countries have various levels of high employment for persons with different backgrounds.
In Denmark, employment in the younger age group, 18–24 years, is highest among persons who have a background in the Rest of Europe; and in the older age group, 25–39 years, employ- ment is highest among persons with a background in the EU countries. In Finland, employment is highest among persons who have a background in Asia, except in the group of women aged 25–39 where persons from the Rest of Europe have the highest employment. In Norway, employment is highest among persons who have a background in the Rest of Europe, except among men aged 25–39 where persons from North America and Oceania have the highest employment. In Sweden, employment in the younger age group is highest among persons who have a background in the Nordic countries; and in the older age group the highest employment is found among those who have a background in the Rest of Europe.
Persons who have a background in Africa are among those with the lowest employment rates in all countries.
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