Who’d prefer their country to Trump’s US? Norwegians would
STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — Norwegians generally live longer than Americans. There’s a generous safety net of health care and pensions. And although it’s pricey, the country last year was named the happiest on Earth.
President Donald Trump says the United States should take in more Norwegians, but is it any wonder that more Americans are going the other way?
The country of 5.2 million people that seldom makes global headlines awoke Friday to the news that Trump wanted to have more immigrants from Norway, rather than Haiti and countries in Africa that he disparaged with a vulgar term.
The comments came after Trump met Wednesday with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Washington. His remarks were seen in Oslo as racially charged and sharply at odds with Norwegian values of inclusivity.
“This says a lot about what Trump thinks it means to be an American. It is more about ethnicity than shared values,” said Hilde Restad, an associate professor in international affairs and a former U.S. resident.
She added that Norwegians generally didn’t want “to be flattered by this U.S. president in this way.”
Henrik Heldahl, a commentator for the political website Amerikansk Politikk, said the sentiment would have been welcomed in Norway had Trump used less coarse language for Haiti and African countries.
He said “it could have been a compliment and a nice sending off for Erna Solberg as a trusted U.S. partner,” Heldahl said. “But the way he said it guarantees that the reaction here will be very negative.”
Emigration from Norway to the U.S. hit its peak in 1882 when almost 29,000 mostly poor Norwegians crossed the Atlantic. In 2016, however, only 1,114 Norwegians moved to the U.S., while 1,603 Americans moved to Norway.
Trump’s comments were unlikely to trigger an exodus from one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Oil-rich Norway ranks fourth in the world for GDP per person, according to the World Bank, compared with the U.S., which was eighth. Norway also boasts a universal health care system, low unemployment and $1 trillion “rainy day” fund fueled by its offshore oil and gas resources that helps pay for generous pensions and other social welfare programs.