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Johan Fredrik Rye, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Topic: Migrant farm workers’ quality of life, welfare and health in Norway’s agricultural industries

Keywords: Migrant workers, living conditions, public health, welfare state


Around the world, migrant farm workers generally experiences precarious work and wage conditions, often including hazardious work environments with serious health implication. This paper investigates the case of migrant workers in the Norwegian horticultural industries, which is interesting both due to the generally highly regulated character of the Norwegian labour market, including strong control mechanisms by state authority and trade union presence, and the country’s social democratic welfare state model, in which universal provision of free health care – also to immigrants – is an essential measure. Interestingly, there is little existing knowledge on the health situation for migrant workers in the horticultural industries, possibly reflecting a general ignorance of migrant work stock life conditions among key actors in the Norwegian agricultural industry (such as farmers and their organisation, state agencies, and rural public channels). However, the evidence that exist suggest that Norwegian migrant farm workers share the precarious and often health damaging working life conditions in many other countries. The inherent marginal position of migrants, due to their often non-permanent presence in the community, language barriers and lacking knowledge of the health system, further adds to their problematic relationship to the public health providers. This raises important questions for the furture of public health provision in rural regions: How can health actors better acknowledge and address the health needs of migrant farm workers?

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