News in Digest: Who wants to be a Dane?

Questions might be easier, but phone-a-friends in Denmark are in scant supply

Thousands of prospective Danes gathered at language centres last week to take the citizenship test – a biannual multiple choice quiz that most Danes admit to failing.

They were given 45 minutes to answer at least 32 of the 40 questions correctly to win the right to apply for Danish citizenship. With Brexit looming, the number of Brits applying has shot up 500 percent since the summer.

The general consensus is that the examiners have learned a lesson following criticism of their test in the summer in which they asked what year was the first Olsen Gang film released and composer Carl Nielsen born and gave multiple choice options only a few years apart.

Not really Danish
However, is it worth the effort as Danes have a harder time accepting those with foreign backgrounds as their compatriots than most other countries, according to a PhD study at Aarhus University that interviewed 35,000 participants from 19 countries.

“They speak fluent Danish, invest in being in Denmark, take Danish courses, but they are still viewed as not entirely Danish,” the researcher Kristina Bakkær Simonsen told DR about the first and second generation of new Danes.

“They are told by the way they are looked at, politicians and social media that they are not truly Danish. They become discouraged and give up on the idea of ever being part of the Danish community.”

According to an Epinion poll, 46 percent of Danes believe it is not enough to be a Danish citizen to be Danish. Perhaps it’s no surprise that about one fifth of the 472,000 non-Western immigrants and their descendants wish to return to their homelands one day.

Very much a minority
Only 11 percent of Danish citizens are foreign-born, according to a report by Danmarks Statistik – a much lower share than Norway (15) and Sweden

The employment prospects of foreign-born nationals in Scandinavia were highest in Norway, and women from non-Western immigrant backgrounds in Scandinavia are giving birth to far less children – the average has fallen from 3.19 in 1995 to 1.95 in 2015.

Some 228,000 people have been given Danish citizenship since 1980. The number of new Danes peaked at the turn of the century and then declined considerably along with the rise of Dansk Folkeparti. Since 2010, the number of new Danish citizens hasn’t exceeded 5,000 people annually.

The largest group of ‘new Danes’ come from Turkey (27,147), followed by Iraq (18,631), stateless individuals from disputed territories such as Palestine and Kosovo (14,123), Somalia (12,417), Iran (11,571) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (11,132). (CPH POST)