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Completed project

The Development of Citizenship Law in the Nordic Countries

Project period September 2017 - Februar 2018
Project employer Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet
Project nr. 10261
Project leader Arnfinn H. Midtbøen


Project Aim

This project aim was to describe and analyze the development of citizenship law in the Nordic countries from the 1950s until today.

Historically, the Nordic countries have cooperated closely within this area. Since the 1970s, however, the Nordic countries have gradually moved in different directions. In the early 2000s, in particular, important law revisions took place. Sweden’s citizenship law was liberalized in 2001, while Denmark implemented a range of restrictive changes in 2002. Finland and Norway adopted new laws in 2003 and 2005, and the Icelandic citizenship law was revised in 2003, 2007 and 2010.

The law revisions in these three countries contained both liberal and restrictive elements, and placed them between Sweden and Denmark. However, the citizenship laws are constantly changing, which makes it relevant to study the development of Nordic citizenship law. 

Project Approach

The project consisted of two parts. The first part described the current citizenship laws in the Nordic countries and the development since 1950, collected statistics on acquisition and revocation of citizenship, and compiled a literature review over Nordic research and evaluations of citizenship legislations.

The other part discussed causes of the diverging development of citizenship law in the Nordic countries, assessed possible effects of different legislations for Nordic cooperation, and gave recommendations for further legislative changes.

Institute for Social Research lead the project, and jointly conducted it with PRIO. The project has been financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, and resulted in a TemaNord report in English, published in June 2018. 


Midtbøen, Arnfinn Haagensen; Birkvad, Simon Roland & Erdal, Marta Bivand (2018). Citizenship in the Nordic Countries : past, present, future. TemaNord. 2018:522. Download full-text here.


ParticipantDegree PhoneE-mail
Marta Bivand Erdal (PRIO)
Arnfinn H. Midtbøen
Simon Roland Birkvad
Tags: Migration
Published Oct. 20, 2017 3:01 PM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2018 1:06 PM