PM disputes Iceland emigration crisis

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, says that the number of people moving away from Iceland this year is no more than in an average year — despite extensive media coverage to the contrary.

The PM told RÚV she believes talk of emigration away from Iceland in 2011 is massively over-exaggerated.

Jóhanna was talking to the broadcaster in response to a news story on Monday evening suggesting that an average of seven Icelanders leave the country for Norway every day in search of a better life. 6,000 people have moved away from Iceland in “recent” years; although the exact number of years was not specified. A population expert told the news programme that it is cause for concern if young people choose not to return home at the end of their studies abroad.

The Prime Minister responded yesterday, saying: “The situation is that emigration now is no more than in an average year. It was very high in 2009 and 2010 but that has stopped compared to the large number of emigrations there were then. So we are basically at a similar level to before. One should also look to the number of foreigners who moved to Iceland, which if I remember correctly was some 16,000 when the crash happened. No more than 20 percent of them have disappeared from the country since and workplace participation in Iceland is among the highest in the world. So I think it is massively over-exaggerated that there is [an emigration crisis going on].”

(Photos: Alëx Elliott //