Refugees in the Norwegian welfare state : marginalized when unfit for labour market participation?


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Fakultet for samfunnsfag

Document type


Master in International Social Welfare and Health Policy


The aim of this thesis is to shed light on some challenges facing the Norwegian welfare state associated with accommodating for refugees with poor health. It might also provide knowledge to policy makers on local and national level when deciding on refugee and welfare services. Many refugees with health problems end up as long-term social assistance recipients, and it seems that they get less usage of support through the National Insurance Scheme. This study investigates how the Norwegian universal welfare state accommodates for refugees when health problems hinder their participation in the introduction programme, and thus make them dependent on social welfare support. The study also examines the types of measures offered to refugees above 55 years old, who are excluded from the right to participate in the introduction programme. Finally the study investigates whether the increased share with refugee status versus humanitarian grounds has had any effect on the access to rights within the National Insurance Scheme. The study is based on a literature review. In addition it is reviewing selected cases processed in the National Insurance Court, and looks into the factors affecting the decisions on health related benefits. Furthermore, it assesses the findings from these endeavours against the tenets of the Discrimination Act and discusses possible effects on marginalization and social citizenship for those affected. The main observation is that case processing resources are wasted due to weaknesses in the case preparations. It also reveals examples of insufficient use of interpreters in the health services. These factors substantiates that social assistance will be the main source of income for long periods before the majority are recognized with rights within the frames of the National Insurance Scheme. The thesis concludes with four suggestions for policy and service improvements.


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