Following the mass exodus of young graduates from Iceland in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the country has finally returned to net immigration.
Thousands of graduates quit the country in 2008 to seek employment in foreign lands as the situation back home became more and more desperate. Some 7,900 Icelanders left their homeland each year between 2009 and 2012, most of them headed for Scandinavian countries, the UK or the US.
University of Iceland professor of sociology Stefan Olafsson explained that it’s extremely easy for Icelanders to move somewhere like Norway, where they can find higher-paid jobs. He added that it’s tough for Iceland to compete with such countries.
Over the same four-year period the North Atlantic nation saw 5,700 migrants and refugees arrive on its shores annually.
However, last year, two years after the debt-ridden country emerged from recession, the number of people departing for pastures new dropped by 13 per cent and there was a rise of 19 per cent in immigration. This resulted in a net population increase of 1,600.
Until the onset of the 2008 crisis, Iceland’s population had been experiencing a steady annual increase for almost 10 years, largely made up by newcomers. The population at present is 322,000.