Politiken JUNE 3. 2016
Hjarn v. Zernichow Borberg (51 years) is a graduate in economics. He is an external lecturer at the Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen and section chief in the Capital Region. He has previously worked for the Danish Bank, Ministry of Education, the Council of Ministers and the Danish Immigration Service. He has recently written the book; ‘New Danes” and asked; Are immigrants and Danes really so different?’.
The economist and former employee of the Immigration Hjarn v. Zernichow Borberg, in this interview, says that the debate is a false narrative about immigrants and Danes and immigrants are not so different. Actually he reminds us that in nine out of ten cases, we are similar to each other. In this book, he presents his statistics on the subject, hoping to get balance into the debate.
The figures are a selection of the numbers that Hjarn v. Zernichow Borberg presents in his new book ‘ethnic Danes – Are immigrants and Danes really so different?’ Several figures are approximate figures. They are taken from a variety of statistics, studies, etc.
“If you only know immigrants from media headlines and public debate, you get a wrong impression of reality, because here all the time media is focusing on the differences. The stories are viewed in isolation, rarely double checked and the numbers are not put into perspective, and overall, the many stories about the differences create a false story about the new Danes. Eventually I have to write a book where I could put the overall statistical picture forward.
The book covers the concept of immigrants than immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries: people who are often looked at in immigration debate here at home.
“The media presents a picture of the immigrants that they huddle together in Ghettos, do not want to work and are more criminal than Danes. The fact is that immigrants do not live in ‘ghettos’ – like the Danes do not. Only 10 percent of the new Danes live there. About 97 percent of new immigrants are not criminals – the figure for Danes is only slightly higher. Immigrants have a lower employment rate than the Danes, but there is a large, large majority of well-integrated immigrant people who want to be part of Danish society “.
Hjarn v. Zernichow Borberg pulls two pieces of white paper and begins to draw: “You can illustrate it very simple. The one piece of paper is about immigrants or new Danes and the other one of Danes. We draw a dot on both papers. One dot – representing immigrants – is slightly larger than the one on the Danes. My point is simply: What about everything else? Do you only see the dot, or you see the entire piece of paper? The 90- 95 percent of us are similar but when you draw a picture with a wide brush, the differences are blown up. ”
97.3 percent are not criminals
The book ‘ethnic Danes’ is filled with numbers in areas such as ‘Cohabitation and relationships’, ‘Home and residence’, ‘School and Education’, ‘Health & Fitness’, ‘Democracy and citizenship’ and ‘Equality and Gender’.
Perhaps it will surprise anyone that immigrant women get more abortions than Danish women. The divorce rate among immigrants is higher than among Danes. And those who believe that all non-Western immigrants have a medieval approach to sex, you might wonder that 97 percent said they are comfortable with female bosses at work. Participation in cultural and leisure activities is high for both Danes and Danes, and the vast majority of young immigrants – about 78 percent – are in employment, education or training. For young Danes, the figure is about 86 percent. Hjarn Borberg comes with several examples of what he believes is erroneous images.
“I’ve gone and collected all this data for many years, because both in my work within government and elsewhere, I saw an entirely different picture. That nuanced image, I think is important to be visible. There are differences, and there are problems, but there must also be proportions. It is the latter, I try to contribute with in the debate. ”
Can you give an example?
‘Let us take the crime and put the Danes at index 100, then you automatically get that for immigrants perhaps Index 250, and then the story runs, but nobody mentions that only 2.7 percent of immigrants are criminals. When you turn the figure around, you will see 97.3 percent immigrants, who have not even hurt a cat and 99.1 per cent Danes have the same situation. So what is really the great difference between us? ”
But surely it is important to talk about the things that do not work? If we just look at the people who do not have problems, we can overlook the problems?
“Yes, and I did not write at one place in the book that this or that story should not have been written. I’m just saying that there is something called relative terms (eg. ratio in pct.) and actual figures and then I note how many, we talking about when we talk about this group. I have nothing against the debate ‘.
»The Monday Morning weekly for example, had a headline that the number of invalid pensioners among immigrants had ‘exploded’. But the proportion is the same as it has always been but just more immigrants are now in this age where every onecan get disability benefits. The figure is slightly higher among immigrants than Danes. But if you just see the headline, you think that they have changed their behavior. This is not true. The fact is that there are more elderly immigrants’.
Some will say that this is just a politically correct input, and that you put a damper on the real problems. We hear, for example, that women’s shelters are filled with women of other ethnic background than Danish. What do you think?
“If you only think that you can determine whether there is violence or non – violence against women in Denmark, based on looking at the statistics for women shelters, then you are totally wrong. The large number is actually among Danish women. It’s a fact that there are so many women who ask for help, but can not get it because there are limitations on how much help the women can get because of the limited number of shelters for women. When there are so few seats, the shelters prioritize those who do not have a network to go to, namely immigrant women. And if you are making analysis from emergency hospital reports, you can see that Danish women are just as hard hit – or as little – as immigrant women.”
So Danish women come in the back of the line due to immigrant women?
“Many Danish women have fortunately a network, which means that they can get help elsewhere. It is a good example of how bad an analysis can go if you think that all these people coming from outside Denmark beat their wives, and therefore, the centers are filled up. ”
Zoom in technique
Here is an article from Ekstra Bladet: “New immigrant statistic: Every fourth immigrant breaks the law – immigrants from the Middle East and Africa are the most criminal.” It quotes a report from Statistics Denmark, which shows that 27 percent of male descendants from a non-Western country from age 20 to 24 is guilty of an offense. Do you still claim that immigrants are no more criminal than Danes?
“There is no doubt that they have higher numbers, but this type of story is about isolated small pockets, and focusing on the dot instead of the entire paper. It is fine but one should of course start by writing how many immigrants are in the statistics. When the article writes “found guilty of an offense”, it is means all type of offenses – that inclused also the Road Traffic Act – driving too fast and crossing the red light. I pull such offences out of my statistics. I think that Gun law, drugs and criminal offense is the core when we should talk about crimes. The second point to look at is; Who is the victim? The victims of the new Danes’ crime are other immigrants and Danes are victims of the Danes. It is groups that attack groups. This does not mean that I legitimize the crime. It just means that you try to blow up a number and create fear. The Danes also think that there is more crime in society than there actually is. ”
You say that this type of stories actually involves a small group?
“Yes. When newspaper choose to focus on 20-24 year group, it does to confirm their own prejudices, because that’s the age group that is most criminal’.
How many are we talking about in this group?
“The whole group of the 20-24-year-old descendant men are perhaps 8,000 people. Out of that, a quarter of them – perhaps 2,000 are involved in lawlessness. But what is lawlessness here? At least 60 percent will be traffic offenses. Then we are further down, closer to the approximately 10 per cent of the male population aged 20-24 descendants who are criminals, but they represent only about 0.2 percent of all new Danes. First the newspaper uses the term immigrants in the headline but then it says, descendants in the introduction. There is a big difference. They use the zoom on technique focusing on a very small group in the group, but makes it sound as if it basically is out of the whole group of immigrants. When people then get past the headline; ‘every fourth immigrant is lawless’, they believe that the figure represent quarter of all immigrants. In reality, it is one-fourth of a very narrow group ‘.
Rockwool Foundation has also done a lot of work in this area. Here is a report which shows that 50 percent more non-western descendants are convicted of crime compared to individuals with Danish background …
“How many Danes are criminals? It’s not very many. It is like nothing multiplied by, for example. 150 percent? When you go in and look at these things about crime, one number is larger than the other. There is no reason to hide. I focus just on the majority of both immigrants and Danes. Take another example: It’s hard to bring migrants into volunteering. Yes, but for heavens sake, how many Danes want to do volunteer work? Or take the story of immigrant children dropping breakfast. Yes, it is true that there are slightly more immigrants than Danes who drop the breakfast, but nobody knows that there are approximately 65,000 Danish children who apparently go to school without breakfast. So let us focus on the problem for all children ‘.
The majority are the role models
Is there not statistics, where you can actually see a difference that worry you?
“Yes. One is homofobi where there is a difference. It is not because the new Danes say that homosexuality should be banned, but a significant minority have a problem with it. We must also work with the voting turnout, which in my view is the lifeblood of a good Democrat. In addition, immigrants have made abortion more than Danes. Maybe we should provide several of these female immigrants, sex education (not their children, but immigrant women). And finally, I wish if you could get employment higher up and get more immigrants to join the labor market ‘.
Speaking of employment. Looking at the figures here, there is a fairly large difference in employment. The employment rate for immigrants is significantly lower than for Danes?
“Yes. What you just need to know is that there are more immigrants who are self-supporting. And I just can count on me to, if you compare, there are about 5 percentage points, which can be explained in changing immigration patterns. You have a number of employed and takes a given group 16-64 years who are immigrants. There are also many people coming to Denmark to study or to work. Those who come to work, taking with them perhaps a spouse. He pulls up the employed number, the spouse pulls it down. Students, au pairs, volunteers and interns also draws the employment level down. You compare apples and pears when comparing employment rates between Danes and immigrants because of the changed pattern. You’re not getting me to argue that people should not work. What I am simply saying is that you should investigate deeper what the numbers represent. ”
You say there is a false narrative. What do you think are the consequences?
“The fact is that we have a debate form and approach to other people, which is characterized by mistrust. Those who know a functioning new Dane, may be thinking: Here’s a role model. But it is a lie; not because people do not have to be role models, but because the majority of are role models! The majority are well-adjusted – even those who do not speak perfect Danish ‘.