During a meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday, US President Donald Trump reportedly blasted a number of nations as “shithole countries.” Then he turned his attention to Norway.
Trump singled out the wealthy Scandinavian nation, whose Prime Minister he met the day before, and said that he would welcome immigrants from the oil-rich, majority white country.
But despite the President’s offer, it’s unlikely that an influx of Norwegians will begin to settle in the US anytime soon.
Norwegians become American citizens at a much lower rate than most other countries.
From 2007-2016, less than 1,000 Norwegians naturalized as US citizens, according to US Department of Homeland Security data. That’s an average of 100 Norwegians a year – less than .000001 percent of Norway’s population.
665 Americans became Norwegian citizens between 2006-2016, according to Statistics Norway.
Why might that be?
Norway has a rich economy, generous social welfare programs, a highly-rated (and free) education system, and exemplary gender parity practices, to name a few of the benefits.
And to top it off, the United Nations named Norway the “happiest country in the world” last year. The US came in 14th place.
Norway, a major oil producer, has harnessed its energy earnings into a giant pension fund worth over $1 trillion. The government uses the fund, one of the largest in the world, to divvy out pensions and other government expenses.
Norway also boasts low unemployment, with only 4% of the labor force without a job according to Statistics Norway. Although US unemployment nearly mirrors that, at 4.1%, wages have not grown accordingly with inflation and to counter the cost of living.
And when it comes to health care, Norway has their citizens covered.
The government has a system of universal health care which covers all citizens for free, regardless of their socioeconomic status, country of origin or where they reside.
In the US, patients wanting to see a doctor will shelve out at least $30-200 per visit, depending on their insurance plan, according to OECD data.
For women, Norway ranks the second best in the world, according to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report. The annual report examines gender imbalances in economics and the workplace, education, politics and health.
The US ranks 49th on the list.
Norwegian sports took a further step in the right direction for gender equality in December, when the Norwegian Football Association decided they would pay the women’s team the same as the men’s team, a deal thought to be the first of its kind in international soccer.
Norwegians also love the great outdoors; hiking across some of the country’s 46 national parks is something of a national pastime.
It’s unlikely that many Norwegians would agree with Trump’s decision to cut funding to the US National Parks Service and slash the size of some of the country’s most beloved monuments. In December, Trump signed a proclamation that split Utah’s famed Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by roughly 45%.
’Why would Norwegians want to immigrate here?’
None of this was lost on social media users familiar with the benefits of living in Norway.
“If you want to attract more immigration from Norway, you’re going to need to provide Universal Healthcare, Free College, and robust social safety nets. Because they already have all those things,” author Patrick S. Tomlinson wrote on Twitter.
Researcher Robert Maguire posted a series of charts detailing socioeconomic disparity between the nations on Twitter, saying, “But really, why would someone want to emigrate from Norway to America?”
American author Stephen King weighed in with his thoughts, writing, “Why would people from Norway want to immigrate here? They have actual health care, and longer life expectancy.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the date range for Norwegians naturalized as US citizens to 2007-2016.