In the many discussions I have had with foreigners as part of my role in leading activities aimed at cultural integration in Denmark, I got the impression more and more that certain challenges have not really been explored yet. It is often the case that well-educated foreigners leave Denmark due to not being fully capable of settling properly. The reason usually mentioned is that they have a strong difficulty in becoming a part of the community, and building a social network. Families become isolated and are unable to find their “place” here.
However, many people mentioned that not only do they struggle with integrating they also feel that they are not wanted in the country. That was the trigger to look more closely into this topic and served as the motivation for conducting this survey and to determine if the related experiences of not feeling welcome were singular and only the experience of a few or if it is the experience of many. By examining the experience of a large number of people it is my hope that problems can be identified and solutions found to help bridge the gap between Danes and the international community.
The result: 46% of the participants don’t feel welcome versus 26% who do. 28% gave a neutral answer. Considering that 98% of the 703 survey participants are well-educated, this is a very worrying result especially as Denmark claims the need for well-educated work-force from abroad.
The result of the survey gives a strong signal that there seems to be a problem, that foreigners don’t feel wanted here. This is not only unpleasant for the foreigners themselves and can influence them to leave the country (which in fact many do), but it can also have serious consequences for Denmark and its economy.
Openness, friendliness, “hygge”, and treating people equally is the Danish way.
Or do we have to say “was” the Danish way? Considering the results of the survey, many foreigners don’t seem to experience these Danish qualities. Hopefully they will not get lost in the current focus of protecting Denmark.
See the Final survey report