Popular support for a basic income among Norwegian voters. How sensitive is it to framing in terms of immigration?

Portrait picture of presenters Ann-Helén Bay and Axel West Pedersen

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Ann-Helén Bay and Axel West Pedersen, professors at OsloMet, will give a 30-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. The event is in a hybrid format, you are welcome to join us for lunch from the Corner room at DIGSSCORE. Food is provided on a first-come first-served basis.

Click here for digital attendance.


It has been suggested that an important explanation for the particularly comprehensive and generous nature of the Scandinavian welfare states s, is the high degree of ethnic, linguistic and religious homogeneity of the Scandinavian societies. This suggestion aligns with the idea that mass immigration and racial, ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity represents a serious obstacle to welfare state development – an idea that has attracted considerable attention in welfare state research over the years. If population homogeneity has been an important precondition for the historical development of the universal Scandinavian welfare states, it is reasonable to assume that increased immigration represents a serious challenge to the continued popular support for established universal benefits, not to speak of a further expansion of universal benefits in the direction of an unconditional basic income.

Using a quasi-experimental survey design, we investigated in 2003 the persuasive power of immigration cues on Norwegians’ attitudes towards the idea of a basic income. While we initially found a high degree of support for the basic income idea, our experiment indicated a substantial sensitivity to framing the basic income proposal with respect to immigration issues. In 2021 we have repeated our persuasion experiment as part of the Digsscore Survey in the Autumn of 2021. In the paper we explore whether immigration still has persuasive power on attitudes towards basic income. Our initial hypothesis is that that the persuasive power of immigration has been weakened during this period, as a number of studies have suggested that the Norwegian electorate is becoming more tolerant and less sceptic towards immigrants and immigration.