Researching immigrant populations: the case of Iceland
Anna Wojtynska, University of Iceland
Keywords: immigrants, surveys, RDS, Iceland
Just until the year 2000, foreign citizens made up less than 3% of Icelandic population. The economic boom accompanied with big constructions projects, and followed by growing labor shortage caused unprecedented and rapid immigration to the country. The inflow increased even more when Iceland opened labor market for the new member states of the EU in May 2006. Only within four years immigrant population more than doubled, growing from 13.033 at the beginning of 2005 to 27.240 in January 2008, accounting already for 9% of the total population (Statistic Iceland). However, there were only few surveys conducted with immigrants so far, using different methods both sampling and researching. For example, the first one used sample based on official registry and was sending out the question list. Another one was conducted in the workplaces, were questionnaire was introduced, delivered and then collected. In summer 2010 RDS (Respondent Driving Sampling) survey was curried with Polish immigrants in the capital area. Moreover, several smaller surveys were done either through internet or by telephone. Icelandic population data are based on the National Register. All foreign citizens that intend to reside in Iceland even temporarily need to register. The illegal entries are estimated as very low. Consequently, official data is believed to have good information on stock and residency of foreign nationals, which should facilitate drawing a representative sample for surveys as well as establish contact with respondents. Still, as for now, (for different reasons) it proofed difficult to reach immigrant populations. Our presentation builds on experiences from these different ways of data collections. We would like to compare different methodologies, their shortcomings and advantages, followed by our recommendations.