Role reversal for Sweden and Norway

Young Swedes are migrating to rich Norway in search of some quick cash, reports The New York Times.

As one of the richest countries in the world, Norway has attained a new status for a country that was once relatively poor by Scandinavian standards. Oslo’s low-income neighborhoods of Brugata and Storgata have recently become inhabited by Swedes in search of lucrative work and low-cost accommodation. This is seen as a reversal of situations, as Norwegians were heading to Sweden for work after the Second World War.

There are currently around 35,000 Swedes employed and living in Norway, nearly double the number in 1990. As Sweden went into recession in the early 1990s, Norway’s economy began to flourish in response to earlier oil discoveries in the North Sea. By 2006, Norway was the world’s third largest oil exporter.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, a University of Oslo professor of social anthropology, said: “When I was young, Swedes had whiter teeth, clearer skin, Abba and Bjorn Borg. We had lots of fish and not much more. Today, Swedes have been cut down to size. And I would say that many Norwegians enjoy the fact that so many Swedes are here doing menial jobs.”

The majority of Swedes flocking to Norway for work are between 18 and 25 years of age. They find jobs in restaurants, warehouses and other places that pay nearly double the Swedish wages.

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