Norway Economics and Business

Norway is a small yet prosperous country located on the western coast of Scandinavia. With an estimated population of 5.4 million and a GDP per capita of US$ 82,183, Norway is the third wealthiest country in the world. The economy is largely driven by its abundant natural resources such as oil and gas which account for around 25% of total GDP. Additionally, fishing and aquaculture are also important contributors to the economy with seafood products making up nearly 8% of exports.

Industrial production accounts for around 20% of total GDP with activities such as manufacturing, metals fabrication and shipbuilding being particularly important. Additionally, Norway has also emerged as a leader in renewable energy and has invested heavily in solar, wind and hydropower sources which now make up over 60% of its energy production.

According to cheeroutdoor, tourism has become increasingly important in recent years with over 10 million visitors entering the country each year to explore its stunning scenery, vibrant culture and architecture. Additionally, foreign investment has also been on the rise with many international companies setting up operations in Norway due to its highly educated workforce, excellent infrastructure and attractive tax incentives.

In order to maintain economic growth into the future, the government needs to focus on creating more jobs by encouraging foreign investment and entrepreneurship as well as improving infrastructure such as roads, ports and telecommunications networks which are already among some of the best in Europe. Additionally, it needs to reduce its reliance on oil revenues by diversifying its export markets beyond Europe so that it can increase foreign currency earnings which would enable it to purchase essential imports without relying on other countries’ generosity.

Almost 31 percent of Norway’s total area is productive land, ie cultivated land, which represents 3.6 percent, and productive forest, which represents 27 percent.


Inflation rate 1.90%
Unemployment rate 4.2%
Gross domestic product (GDP) $ 381,200,000,000
GDP growth rate 1.90%
GDP per capita $ 72,100
GDP by sector
Agriculture 2.30%
Industry 33.70%
Service 64.00%
State budget
Revenue 200.7 billion
Expenditure 136.1 billion
Proportion of the population below the national poverty line
Distribution of household income
Top 10% 21st
Lower 10% 3.9
Industrial production growth rate -0.50%
Investment volume 21.4% of GDP
National debt 36.50% of GDP
Foreign exchange reserves $ 60,450,000,000
Tourism 2014
Number of visitors 4,855,000
Revenue $ 6,490,000,000


The reason for the high material standard is therefore that the country has been decisively incorporated into the industrialization process that has been going on for the last 100–200 years in all western countries.

In this process, natural benefits are utilized, such as energy access, location relative to markets and more. Extensive trade relations and other contacts with other countries have played a crucial role in the development.

Later, the discoveries of oil and gas in Norwegian areas have generated large revenues; in 2013, the oil business accounted for 21 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In comparison, public administration accounted for 16 per cent. The Norwegian GDP is about NOK 3 billion.

The labor

Abbreviated as NOR by, Norway was, like the Other Countries in Europe, hit by mass unemployment in the interwar period, with a peak in 1933, when 1/3 of the unionized workforce was jobless.

During the post- World War II reconstruction, broad political consensus on full employment was a key objective of economic policy, and this line was maintained even after the international boom in the 1960s was replaced by stagnation in the second half of the 1970s.

The oil industry in the North Sea created many new jobs in Norway, also in traditionally exposed industries such as the engineering industry, and together with an active labor market policy, this contributed to the unemployment rate in Norway during the 1970s being significantly lower than in other industrialized countries.

From the early 1970s until the recession of 1983/84, unemployment was below 2 percent of the labor force.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, globalization of the economy has led Norway to be more closely linked to the trends in the world economy, and unemployment now reflects the fluctuations internationally to a greater extent.

In the first half of the 1980s, unemployment rose to a peak year in 1984, when 66,597, corresponding to 3.2 per cent, were fully unemployed. Unemployment then dropped to 1.5 percent in 1987.

Against the background of the problems in the Norwegian and international economy, a new and more serious increase in unemployment began from 1987–88. In the peak year 1993, 118 147 were completely unemployed. This was equivalent to 6 percent of the workforce.

From 1993, unemployment dropped sharply to 55 974, corresponding to 2.4 percent, fully unemployed in 1998, and then increased again to 92 631, ie 3.9 percent, fully unemployed in 2003.

The Norwegian economy entered a new upswing in mid-2003, and from the turn of the year 2003/04, registered unemployment declined again. In January 2006, 78 600 fully unemployed persons were registered, ie 3.3 percent.

In April 2014, the proportion of unemployed was the same as in 2006. This amounts to 90,000 people.

Professional participation in Norway is very high in an international context. In 2013, the number of employed persons was 2.7 million. This corresponds to about 50 per cent of the population. 74 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 74 are in the workforce. The same goes for 68 percent of women.

Employment growth was particularly strong among women and labor participation among women has since remained high. Norway also has a significant share of part-time employees, although the proportion has been declining in recent years. Today, 40 percent of all women work part-time. In 1980 the proportion was 53 percent. About 10 percent of all men work less than 36 hours a week. It has long remained stable.

Note: the capital city of Norway is Oslo with a population of 647,700 (2015). Other major cities include Bergen with a population of 275,100, Trondheim with a population of 185,000, Stavanger with a population of 132,100 (2015).

Labor Policies

One of the most important labor market initiatives is the State Employment Service, which sorts under the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. NAV was established on July 1, 2006. This entailed a merger between the National Insurance Administration and the labor market agency Aetat and over time the establishment of local labor and welfare offices.

In collaboration with all the country’s municipalities, the new agency has established local labor and welfare offices throughout the country. A major purpose of the reform was to get more people into work and activity and fewer social benefits.

Comprehensive public-sector employment measures are implemented, including in the form of wage subsidies for companies that include new employees, training and internships, state workplaces, accession measures, special measures for the disabled and more.

In 2005, a new letter of intent for the period 2006–09 on a more inclusive working life was signed between the government and the social partners.

The first letter of intent was signed in 2001 for a four-year trial. The IA agreement aims to ensure a more inclusive working life and to prevent the transition from work to social security.

The agreement focuses on reducing sickness absence and disability pension, increasing the retirement age in the working life and securing the recruitment of persons with reduced disability and other disadvantaged groups in the working life.

  • Paulsourcing: Top 10 tips for doing business in Norway, covering country profile and market entry requirement.

Private consumption

Private consumption accounted for about 80 percent of gross domestic product at the beginning of the 20th century and then declined to around 50 percent in the 1970s. Parallel to this, the share of public consumption has increased, but from around 1980 the growth in private consumption has been greater than the growth in public consumption.

The savings rate, that is, the portion of household disposable income that does not consume for consumption, was temporarily marked down and was negative in the latter half of the 1980s, but has increased again towards and into the new century.

In parallel with the growth in private consumption, there has been a marked change in the consumption pattern. An ever-decreasing part of the expenditure goes to food and clothing and footwear, while the expenses for housing, travel and transport, leisure activities and education show a clear increase.


Norway has a relatively large number of small and medium-sized companies. In the international context, Norwegian companies are small, and the Norwegian corporate structure is still characterized by a distinction between the export industry and the domestic market industry.

Norway GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

Export companies, which mainly utilize a raw material and energy base in Norway, are often relatively large companies, while the domestic industry is characterized by a large number of smaller companies.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Norway, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.

This applies, for example, to the graphic industry, the food, furniture, textile and parts of the workshop industry.

In the 1980s began a period of mergers and acquisitions that characterize this sector; for example, there are far fewer units in the food industry.

Read more about Norwegian industrial history.

Consumption expenditure per household, as a percentage of different goods and services
1958 1973 1983-1985 1993-1995 2002-04
food 40 24 19 14 12
Beverages and tobacco 4 5 4 4 3
Clothes and footwear 13 11 8 6 6
Housing, light and fuel 14 13 20 24 26
Furniture and household articles 8 9 8 9 7
health Care 2 2 2 2 3
Travel and transportation 7 20 21 21 17
Recreational activities and education 7 10 10 11 13
Other 6 7 8 9 13

Norway Economics and Business

About the author