The economy of Norway is a developed mixed economy with state-ownership in strategic areas. Although sensitive to global business cycles, the economy of Norway has shown robust growth since the start of the industrial era. The country has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries, and a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway's modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.
According to United Nations data for 2016, Norway together with Luxembourg (a small state) and Switzerland are the only three countries in the world with a GDP per capita above US$70,000 that are not island nations nor microstates.
|Economy of Norway|
|Currency||1 Norwegian krone (NOK) = 100 øre= 0.1 EUR|
|OECD, WTO, European Economic Area and others|
|GDP||$400 billion (nominal; 2018)|
|GDP rank||23rd (nominal) / 48th (PPP)|
GDP per capita
|$73,450 (nominal; 2017) |
$70,660 (PPP; 2017)
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 1.6%; industry: 34.7%; services: 63.5% (2016 est.) |
|2.8 million (2015 est.)|
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 2.7%; industry: 18.3%; services: 79% (2015) |
|Unemployment||4.0% (November 2017)|
Average gross salary
|NOK45,600(€4,700) monthly (2018)|
|Exports||$92.4 billion (2016 est.)|
|petroleum and petroleum products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, fish|
Main export partners
| United Kingdom 22.2% |
Belgium 5.0% 
|Imports||$73.02 billion (2016 est.)|
|machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, foodstuffs|
Main import partners
| Sweden 12.0% |
China 9.8% (2015)
United Kingdom 6.7%
United States 6.6%
|$200 billion (2013) |
Gross external debt
|$626 billion (Dec 2016) |
|30.3% of GDP (2012 est.)|
|Revenues||$0.3 trillion (2012 est.)|
|Expenses||$0.2 trillion (2012 est.)|
|Economic aid||$4.0 billion (donor), 1.1% of GDP (2017) |
|$59 billion (May 2017)|
Prior to the industrial revolution, Norway's economy was largely based on agriculture, timber, and fishing. Norwegians typically lived under conditions of considerable scarcity, though famine was rare. Except for certain fertile areas in Hedemarken and Østfold, crops were limited to hardy grains, such as oats, rye, and barley; and livestock to sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, and some poultry; in places this was complemented with hunting. In areas of Central and Northern Norway, the Sami subsisted on the nomadic herding of reindeer. Fishing all around the coast was dangerous work, though fish such as herring, cod, halibut, and other cold-water species were found in abundance. The introduction of the potato to Norway (in the 18th century) provided considerable relief for Norwegians.
All around the coast, the harvesting of fish (including cod, herring, halibut, and other cold water species) was an important supplement to farming and was in many areas in the north and west the primary household subsistence. Fishing was typically supplemented with crop-growing and the raising of livestock on small farms.
The economic conditions in Norway did not lend themselves to the formation of feudal system, though several kings did reward land to loyal subjects who became knights. Self-owning farmers were—and continue to be—the main unit of work in Norwegian agriculture, but leading up to the 19th century farmers ran out of land available for farming. Many agricultural families were reduced to poverty as tenant farmers, and served as the impetus for emigration to North America.
Aside from mining in Kongsberg, Røros and Løkken, industrialization came with the first textile mills that were built in Norway in the middle of the 19th century. But the first large industrial enterprises came into formation when entrepreneurs' politics led to the founding of banks to serve those needs.
Industries also offered employment for a large number of individuals who were displaced from the agricultural sector. As wages from industry exceeded those from agriculture, the shift started a long-term trend of reduction in cultivated land and rural population patterns. The working class became a distinct phenomenon in Norway, with its own neighborhoods, culture, and politics.
The roots of the socialist movement in Norway were based on dangerous working conditions, exploitative labor relations policies, and the demand for collective bargaining. As socialism became part of the mainstream labor movement, it also became part of the mainstream political discourse.
The state has large ownership positions in key industrial sectors, such as the strategic petroleum sector (Equinor), hydroelectric energy production (Statkraft), aluminum production (Norsk Hydro), the largest Norwegian bank (DNB) and telecommunication provider (Telenor). The government controls 31.6% of publicly listed companies. When non-listed companies are included the state has an even higher share in ownership (mainly from direct oil license ownership).
After World War II, the Norwegian Labour Party, with Einar Gerhardsen as prime minister, embarked on a number of social democratic reforms aimed at flattening the income distribution, eliminating poverty, ensuring social services such as retirement, medical care, and disability benefits to all, and putting more of the capital into the public trust.
Highly progressive income taxes, the introduction of value-added tax, and a wide variety of special surcharges and taxes made Norway one of the most heavily taxed economies in the world. Authorities particularly taxed discretionary spending, levying special taxes on automobiles, tobacco, alcohol, cosmetics, etc.
Norway's long-term social democratic policies, extensive governmental tracking of information, and the homogeneity of its population lent themselves particularly well for economic study, and academic research from Norway proved to make significant contributions to the field of macroeconomics during this era. When Norway became a petroleum-exporting country, the economic effects came under further study.
In May 1963, Norway asserted sovereign rights over natural resources in its sector of the North Sea. Exploration started on 19 July 1966, when Ocean Traveler drilled its first well. Oil was first encountered at the Balder oil field at flank of the Utsira High, about 190 km west of Stavanger, in 1967. Initial exploration was fruitless, until Ocean Viking found oil on 21 August 1969. By the end of 1969, it was clear that there were large oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The first oil field was Ekofisk, produced 427,442 barrels (67,957.8 m3) of crude in 1980. Since then, large natural gas reserves have also been discovered.
Against the backdrop of the Norwegian referendum to not join the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Industry, headed by Ola Skjåk Bræk moved quickly to establish a national energy policy. Norway decided to stay out of OPEC, keep its own energy prices in line with world markets, and spend the revenue – known as the "currency gift" – wisely. The Norwegian government established its own oil company, Statoil, and awarded drilling and production rights to Norsk Hydro and the newly formed Saga Petroleum. Petroleum exports are taxed at a marginal rate of 78% (standard corporate tax of 24%, and a special petroleum tax of 54%).
The North Sea turned out to present many technological challenges for production and exploration, and Norwegian companies invested in building capabilities to meet these challenges. A number of engineering and construction companies emerged from the remnants of the largely lost shipbuilding industry, creating centers of competence in Stavanger and the western suburbs of Oslo. Stavanger also became the land-based staging area for the offshore drilling industry. Presently North Sea is past its peak oil production. New oil and gas fields have been found and developed in the large Norwegian areas of the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, including Snøhvit.
In September 1972, the Norwegian parliament put to a referendum the question whether Norway should join the European Union. The proposal was turned down with a slim margin. The Norwegian government proceeded to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU that would give Norwegian companies access to European markets. Over time, Norway renegotiated and refined this agreement, ultimately joining the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area.
Although Norway's trade policies have long aimed at harmonizing its industrial and trade policy with the EU's, a new referendum in 1994 gave the same result as in 1972, and Norway remains one of only two Nordic countries outside the EU, the other being Iceland.
Although much of the highly divisive public debate about EU membership turned on political rather than economic issues, it formed economic policy in several important ways:
Norwegians have sought accommodations on a range of specific issues, such as products from fish farms, agricultural products, emission standards, etc., but these do not appear to differ substantially from those sought by bona fide EU members. It is expected that the issue of membership will be brought to a referendum again at some point.
Several issues have dominated the debate on Norway's economy since the 1970s:
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017. Inflation under 2% is in green.
(in Bil. US$ PPP)
|GDP per capita
(in US$ PPP)
(in % of GDP)
|1980||61.3||14,968||4.5 %||10.9 %||1.7 %||46.7 %|
|1981||68.0||16,568||1.6 %||13.6 %||2.0 %||42.5 %|
|1982||72.4||17,571||0.2 %||11.3 %||2.6 %||37.7 %|
|1983||78.3||18,936||4.0 %||8.5 %||3.4 %||34.7 %|
|1984||86.0||20,737||6.1 %||6.2 %||3.1 %||34.5 %|
|1985||93.7||22,517||5.6 %||5.7 %||2.6 %||36.2 %|
|1986||99.4||23,814||4.0 %||7.2 %||2.0 %||45.1 %|
|1987||103.7||24,707||1.8 %||8.7 %||2.1 %||37.7 %|
|1988||107.1||25,370||−0.3 %||6.7 %||3.1 %||31.8 %|
|1989||112.4||26,552||1.0 %||4.5 %||4.9 %||31.7 %|
|1990||118.8||27,956||1.9 %||4.1 %||5.2 %||28.4 %|
|1991||126.6||29,610||3.1 %||3.4 %||5.5 %||38.4 %|
|1992||134.1||31,183||3.6 %||2.3 %||5.9 %||44.1 %|
|1993||141.2||32,639||2.8 %||2.3 %||5.9 %||52.6 %|
|1994||151.5||34,829||5.1 %||1.4 %||5.4 %||49.6 %|
|1995||161.0||36,850||4.2 %||2.5 %||4.9 %||32.1 %|
|1996||172.2||39,205||5.0 %||1.3 %||4.8 %||27.8 %|
|1997||184.4||41,788||5.3 %||2.6 %||4.0 %||25.2 %|
|1998||191.3||43,084||2.6 %||2.5 %||3.2 %||22.9 %|
|1999||198.2||44,297||2.0 %||2.4 %||3.2 %||24.3 %|
|2000||209.2||46,471||3.2 %||3.1 %||3.4 %||28.1 %|
|2001||218.3||48,322||2.1 %||3.0 %||3.5 %||26.7 %|
|2002||224.9||49,464||1.4 %||1.3 %||3.9 %||33.5 %|
|2003||231.5||50,629||0.9 %||2.5 %||4.5 %||42.7 %|
|2004||247.3||53,771||4.0 %||0.4 %||4.5 %||43.5 %|
|2005||262.0||56,558||2.6 %||1.5 %||4.6 %||42.0 %|
|2006||276.5||59,180||2.4 %||2.3 %||3.4 %||53.3 %|
|2007||292.3||61,909||3.0 %||0.7 %||2.5 %||49.2 %|
|2008||299.5||62,560||0.5 %||0.5 %||2.6 %||47.2 %|
|2009||296.6||61,257||−1.7 %||2.2 %||3.2 %||41.9 %|
|2010||302.3||61,602||0.7 %||2.4 %||3.6 %||42.3 %|
|2011||311.6||62,656||1.0 %||1.3 %||3.3 %||28.8 %|
|2012||326.0||64,700||2.7 %||1.7 %||3.2 %||30.2 %|
|2013||334.6||65,673||1.0 %||2.1 %||3.5 %||30.4 %|
|2014||347.4||67,377||2.0 %||2.0 %||3.5 %||28.8 %|
|2015||358.1||68,796||2.0 %||2.2 %||4.4 %||33.1 %|
|2016||366.6||69,807||1.1 %||3.6 %||4.8 %||36.7 %|
|2017||380.0||71,831||1.8 %||1.9 %||4.2 %||36.7 %|
The emergence of Norway as an oil-exporting country has raised a number of issues for Norwegian economic policy. There has been concern that much of Norway's human capital investment has been concentrated in petroleum-related industries. Critics have pointed out that Norway's economic structure is highly dependent on natural resources that do not require skilled labor, making economic growth highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the demand and pricing for these natural resources. The Government Pension Fund of Norway is part of several efforts to hedge against dependence on petroleum revenue.
Because of the oil boom since the 1970s, there has been little government incentive to help develop and encourage new industries in the private sector, in contrast to other Nordic countries like Sweden and particularly Finland. However the last decades have started to see some incentive on national and local government levels to encourage formation of new "mainland" industries that are competitive internationally. In addition to aspirations for a high-tech industry, there is growing interest in encouraging small business growth as a source of employment for the future. In 2006, the Norwegian government formed nine "centers of expertise" to facilitate this business growth. Later in June 2007, the government contributed to the formation of the Oslo Cancer Cluster (OCC) as a center of expertise, capitalizing on the fact that 80% of cancer research in Norway takes place in proximity to Oslo and that most Norwegian biotechnology companies are focused on cancer.
|Region||GDP per capita 2015|
|in euros||As % of EU-28 average|
|Richest||Oslo and Akershus||51,800||178%|
|Agder and Rogaland||40,600||140%|
|Poorest||Hedmark and Oppland||29,100||100%|
Basic income (Swedish: basinkomst or medborgarlön) has been debated in the Nordic countries since the 1970s. It has mostly been seen as a radical and utopian proposal and not taken seriously by the big political parties. However, 1st of January 2017 to the 1st of January 2019 Finland conducted a basic income pilot which got international attention. There are also some political parties and some politicians and journalists in all nordic countries who are pushing for the idea of a guaranteed income. The Green parties for example, are generally interested in basic income, as well as the Pirate Parties.Crown (currency)
The crown is a currency used in the countries of Czech Republic, Denmark (including the territories of Faroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Norway and Sweden.Energy in Norway
Norway is a large energy producer, and one of the world's largest exporters of oil.
Most of the electricity in the country is produced by hydroelectricity.
Norway is one of the leading countries in the electrification of its transport sector, with the largest fleet of electric vehicles per capita in the world (see plug-in electric vehicles in Norway and electric car use by country).
Since the discovery of North Sea oil in Norwegian waters during the late 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become very important elements of the economy of Norway.
With North Sea oil production having peaked, disagreements over exploration for oil in the Barents Sea, the prospect of exploration in the Arctic, as well as growing international concern over global warming, energy in Norway is currently receiving close attention.International rankings of Norway
International rankings of NorwayList of Norwegian counties by GDP
This is a list of Norwegian Counties by GDP and GDP per capita. The equivalent countries which are comparable to the Norwegian Counties in GDP per capita are chosen by Worldbank data for the same year.List of Norwegian regions by Human Development Index
This is a list of NUTS2 statistical regions of Norway by Human Development Index as of 2017.List of Norwegians by net worth
The following is a list of Norwegian billionaires. It is based on an annual assessment of wealth and assets compiled and published by Forbes Magazine on February 7, 2018, including the Norway list, and by Hurun Global Rich List 2018.Matrikkelutkastet av 1950
The Land Register Draft of 1950 (Matrikkelutkastet av 1950) is a listing containing rural real estate within Norway. Matrikkelutkastet does not contain data for municipalities but rather contains listings of Norwegian main farms (matrikkelgårder). The farms are sorted by county and municipality or township. Because Matrikkelutkastet contains the names of owners, the archive also can be useful for the individual and family researchers. The Norwegian Finance Department compiled approximately 85,000 lists of rural real estate in Norway, organized by consecutive, increasing official farm number (gårdsnummer) within each municipality. The database forms a part of the digital Norwegian National Archives. The entire catalogue has been converted by the National Documentation Project of Norway into an electronic text with SGML mark up. The transfer from the manual to the electronic system was completed in 1993. The database is in the Norwegian language. The land register formed a part of the Norwegian State Name Consultancy Service effort to standardize place names throughout Norway. Responsible for this project section rested with the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature University of Oslo. Matrikkelutkastet av 1950 was never completed, lacking information from the county of Finnmark, which is reason it is referred to as a draft.Norges Bank
Norges Bank / Noregs Bank is the central bank of Norway. Apart from having traditional central bank responsibilities such as financial stability and price stability, it manages The Government Pension Fund of Norway, a stabilization fund that may be the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. The limited transparency of some SWFs makes it difficult to make accurate assessments of their assets under management.On 31 December 2010, the bank had 590 employees. All Executive Board appointments are made by the King of Norway, after a decision by the Council of State. The Chairman of the Executive Board, Øystein Olsen, who presides over the bank, is also the acting Central Bank Governor. Both the Governor and the Deputy Governor make speaking appearances across the country on a number of occasions each year.North Sea oil
North Sea oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons, comprising liquid petroleum and natural gas, produced from petroleum reservoirs beneath the North Sea.
In the petroleum industry, the term "North Sea" often includes areas such as the Norwegian Sea and the area known as "West of Shetland", "the Atlantic Frontier" or "the Atlantic Margin" that is not geographically part of the North Sea.
Brent crude is still used today as a standard benchmark for pricing oil, although the contract now refers to a blend of oils from fields in the northern North Sea.Norwegian butter crisis
The Norwegian butter crisis began in late 2011 with an acute shortage of butter and inflation of its price across markets in Norway. The shortage caused soaring prices and stores' stocks of butter ran out within minutes of deliveries. According to the Danish tabloid B.T., Norway was gripped by smør-panik ("butter panic") as a result of the butter shortage.Norwegian continental shelf
The Norwegian continental shelf is the continental shelf over which Norway exercises sovereign rights as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.The area of the shelf is four times the area of Norway mainland and constitutes about one-third of the Europe continental shelf. It is rich in petroleum and gas and it is the base of the petroleum economy of Norway.Norwegian krone
The krone [ˈkruːnə] (sign: kr; code: NOK), plural kroner, is the currency of Norway and its dependent territories. It is subdivided into 100 øre, which have existed only electronically since 2012. The name translates into English as crown.
The krone was the thirteenth most traded currency in the world by value in April 2010, down three positions from 2007.Norwegian paradox
The Norwegian paradox is a dilemma of Norway's economic performance where economic performance is strong despite low R&D investment.Old Norwegian Sheep
The Old Norwegian Sheep (Norwegian: Gammelnorsk sau) is likely the breed that most closely resembles the original Northern European short-tailed sheep in Norway. Although the breed almost went extinct at several points in the last century, conservation efforts have succeeded in growing the population to around 30,000 animals and the breed is no longer considered threatened. The breed is particularly suited for being kept outside all year, a practice that stems back to the Viking Age.State Conciliator of Norway
The State Conciliator of Norway (Norwegian: Riksmekleren, until 2012 Riksmeklingsmannen) is a mediator's office of Norway. It is invoked in labour disputes, in other words when tariff agreements are disagreed upon.
It was established in 1915, and the first State Conciliator took office in 1916. The headquarters are in Oslo.Taxation in Norway
Taxation in Norway is levied by the central government, the county municipality (fylkeskommune) and the municipality (kommune). In 2012 the total tax revenue was 42.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Many direct and indirect taxes exist. The most important taxes — in terms of revenue — are VAT, income tax in the petroleum sector, employers’ social security contributions and tax on "ordinary income" for persons. Most direct taxes are collected by the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) and most indirect taxes are collected by the Norwegian Customs and Excise Authorities (Toll- og avgiftsetaten).
The Norwegian word for tax is skatt, which originates from the Old Norse word skattr. An indirect tax is often referred to as an avgift.Whaling in Norway
Whaling in Norway involves subsidized hunting of minke whales for use as animal and human food in Norway and for export to Japan. Whale hunting has been a part of Norwegian coastal culture for centuries, and commercial operations targeting the minke whale have occurred since the early 20th century. Some still continue the practice in the modern day.Åkrehamn
Åkrehamn or Åkrahamn (commonly known as simply Åkra) is a small town in Karmøy municipality in Rogaland county, Norway. The town is located on the west side of the island of Karmøy in the traditional district of Haugaland. The town sits about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of the town of Kopervik, about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of the town of Skudeneshavn, and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of the town of Haugesund. The village of Veavågen lies immediately to the northeast of Åkrehamn.The 4.35-square-kilometre (1,070-acre) town of Åkrehamn has a population (2014) of 7,736. This gives the town a population density of 1,778 inhabitants per square kilometre (4,600/sq mi). It is the second largest urban area by population in Karmøy, after the nearby town of Kopervik.The village of Åkrehamn gained town status in 2002. Since it declared town status, Åkrehamn has blossomed and is now the second largest town in the municipality of Karmøy. The good economy of Norway has brought capital and investments to Åkrehamn, and in the last couple of years, the town has been expanded. Apartments and houses have been built and new fields of industry has been introduced.The northern part of Åkrehamn now encompasses the old fishing village of Sevlandsvik. It is centered on the nicely protected harbour area called Mannes. The economy of this area is centered on fishing and some other small industries.