Norway’s English Speaking Man Surplus

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“Why are there no beautiful girls in England? Because the Vikings came and took them all away…” – Inside of a pub toilet, London, 2001

Since moving to Norway, I’ve noticed a number of puzzling social phenomena. For example, in spite of having generally quite reasonable fashion sense Norwegians seem to have a blind spot with regard to lycra. Instead of restricting the body hugging fabric to the gym and sports it seems lycra is acceptable casual wear for almost any social occasion. This translates into a reality when at any given moment a large percentage of Norwegians in a restaurant or cinema will look ready for slalom from the waist down.

Written by Paul Beaumont

But these are small potatoes; there is one phenomenon that is of particular interest, not least because it involves me directly. That is, the Native English-Speaking Male (or NESM) surplus that I perceive to be present in Norway. I say I perceive because I base this on absolutely no official statistic but rather my own extremely limited experience that there seems to be a significant number of men who moved to Norway to be with their Norwegian girlfriend, but hardly any Native English-Speaking Females (NESF) who moved here to be with their Norwegian boyfriend. I have met exactly none, and a quick poll of my Norwegian friends revealed the same.

It is an old joke that there are no pretty women in the UK because the Vikings came and took them all away. But now, hundreds of generations later it seems the Viking women have returned to take the native Englishmen away. Assuming that there is indeed a gender imbalance, this article seeks to offer a tentative hypothesis on why so many men and not women move to Norway for their kjæreste.

After putting the question to my friends, colleagues and classmates, a number of possible explanations were proffered (all agreed that there was indeed an NESM surplus). NESM’s themselves generally suggested that it was because “Scandinavian women love British men and Scandinavian women are hot”. Meanwhile, Norwegian men suggested it was because British women were “fucking disgusting”. Typically, Norwegian females complained that Norwegian men “just like to fuck around”. Sadly, although they undoubtedly exist, I couldn’t find a NESF to ask. While obviously these views are biased, based on lazy stereotyping, and in the case of British women, downright offensive, that does not mean that they are necessarily wrong. In fact, while each different, these explanations could be mutually complimentary.

After a little bit of research — 5 minutes on Google — I came across an article about Beautifulpeople.com that may help us solve this NESMS puzzle. Beautifulpeople.com is a dating website for the time-short beautiful dickheads in the world who are sick of having to filter through ugly people on regular dating websites. In order to achieve their obnoxious goal, Beautifulpeople.com only accepts you onto the site if you are judged attractive enough by the existing members. This is done through a “hot or not” voting process in which members judge applicants on photographs they submit to the site. While not condoning the objectives of Beautifulpeople.com, the data based on acceptance rates for countries is revealing: 76% of Norwegian females were accepted – the highest in the world – while just 15% of British females were deemed suitably beautiful. If anywhere close to correct then this could be enlightening regarding the NESM surplus in Norway. Graphically it might look something like this:

attractiveness-bellcurve-for-norwegian-women

I would like to say these graphs were hastily mocked up in a mattter of minutes like they appear to be but the sad truth is these crappy graphs took me bloody ages.

I would like to say these crappy graphs were hastily mocked up in a matter of minutes, like they appear to be, but the sad truth is they took me bloody ages.

Were this correct, what would be the possible effects? First, a scarcity of beautiful women in a given country would likely cause fierce competition among men for their love, time and vaginas, forcing them to develop extra skills or talents used to win and woo the domestic girls’ hearts. These skills, in Australia for example, might take the form of big muscles to show that you can hunt, gather and defend said women. Or, in more developed countries; social skills like charm and wit to entertain her.

But furthermore it is likely to affect males’ willingness to commit. If a man is fortunate enough to win the heart of an attractive girl in the UK, he is likely to be delighted and try to hang on to her for as long as possible. After all, the opportunity cost of losing her is high; he will likely have to wait a long time or possibly eternity until he finds a similarly hot girl willing to sleep with him.

Meanwhile, the inverse is true in Norway. The Norwegian man has an abundance of beautiful women to choose from, apparently more than any other country. As a consequence the Norwegian male is complacent and lazy; he has no need to develop courtship skills or to worry much about suffering a hot woman drought between relationships. He knows that if he dumps or is dumped by one aesthetically excellent female, the opportunity cost is negligible as another will (quite literally) be waiting around the corner.

On the other side of the coin, because they are so rare and sought after, the few beautiful British women get fussy and big headed; they expect more and more from their male suitors and take full advantage of their privileged position.  These girls are generally high maintenance, annoying and frankly too much effort to bother dating, let alone invite back home for the Norwegian male.

Meanwhile, back in Norway, the beautiful Norwegian woman, ignorant of her beauty and used to being messed around by complacent Norwegian men, is particularly susceptible to the charms of NESM and their willingness to commit to serious relationships and even emigrate to be with them. Indeed, this willingness to emigrate is one of the solutions available to the British man tired of their country’s attractiveness deficit; the other, of course, is to significantly lower their standards.

This hypothesis explains the NESM surplus as a function of the relative aesthetics of Norwegian and British women and its subsequent effect upon male and female behaviour, tastes and skill sets. This pattern I think is multiplied by other factors, namely ease of communication (Norwegian’s speak excellent English so it is natural that they’d look to English speakers first) and proximity; the UK after all is just one €20 Ryanair “flight” away. I’m not saying that my hypothesis is correct or even close to the truth. It is merely speculation that, on the surface at least, it seems compelling.

I would like to say at this point that I am open to a number of critiques, most obviously that of statistical rigour. A study based on statistics taken from Beautifulpeople.com and with observations on a sample the size of your extended friendship group is unlikely to win any awards for reliability. However, there is one obvious criticism I would like to pre-empt and refute now, the accusation of misogyny: “WHAT ABOUT MALE ATTRACTIVENESS!” the women shout. Surely that matters, right? Well ladies, I have deliberately neglected male physical appearance due to the 3 million times per minute variations on the following theme are claimed by womankind around the world: Looks aren’t important for me – its personality that counts. 

Given that only 12% of men from the UK made the Beautifulpeople.com cut, and its inflated presence in Norway, I guess that in the case of the Norwegian woman, it may well be true.

Illustration by Tom Lenartowicz

Related article: NESF seeks normal date in Norway

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Paul is the Features Editor at Hja! He is also a part-time academic writing teacher, sometime quizmaster, occasional journalist, and full time IR masters student. Available for hire, but never in the morning. His collected scribblings can be found at loveinthetimeoffacebookyeah.wordpress.com and his tweets @BeaumontPaul.

  • http://about.me/jamesmckay1 James McKay

    I’m a NESM with a Norwegian wife, and I really understand where you’re coming from here! I had always thought that this phenomenon was some kind of secret governmental operation, where Norwegian hotties are sent out in droves to lure foreign men back to Norway. It’d probably be the most successful population expansion programme in history. Bet it was Stoltenberg’s idea.

  • Bambi

    lol, NESF and a former member of beautiful people.com – i do like being the exception!!

  • Nina Sotaz

    I tell you why, because Scandinavian are so selfish to do anything for anyone else but themselevs, you have to change your life if you want to continue you longtime relationship with them + in norway you can find a good job with high salary ;)

    • Sigurd Steen Grødem

      if you say so. but remember that Norway pays out a lot of money to help poor countries.
      and i don’t see myself as selfish. Demanding, maybe but not selfish.

    • Simen Iversen

      Yes, I’m sure you’ve met all the men in Scandinavia. What an idiotic statement.

  • http://movito.net/ Fredrik Matheson

    Thanks for a fun article, Paul.

    There is a NESM surplus, and it’s growing. I’ve included a population table from SSB.no, see the original query for yourself here: http://bit.ly/15PiNnN

    As you can see, in the 1970s there was a slight NESF surplus. It would seem that more UK men began to move here after we struck oil, although this doesn’t imply causality. Since 2006 the NESM surplus has grown rapidly, and last year there were 80% more NESMs than NESFs.

    But here’s another thing about last year: there were twice as many Norwegian women studying in the UK than there were men. Here’s the SSB query: http://bit.ly/193Ujpw and the attached population table.

    Now, these two graphs merely show what’s happening: the surplus of Norwegian women studying in the UK and the surplus of UK men moving here dovetail nicely. Also, the economy and job market has been better in Norway than in the UK since 2008. Last but not least, once you start thinking about kids the Norwegian welfare system makes it attractive for the UK/Norwegian family to move here.

    But it looks like they key driver of the NESM surplus is a surplus of stunning Norwegian women moving to the UK to study at university.

    • BeaumontPaul

      Wow, Fredrik, thanks!

      That is very interesting. NESM is actually a real phenomena. I had always presumed it was selection bias on my part. When I have the chance I will re-write a more serious version of the article.

      I like your university theory, but I don’t think we can say it for certain it is the key driver, just potentially one of them. Norwegian women are industrious and imaginative, hunting men at university is just one approach. Certainly, the NESM I know met their girlfriends through various eclectic means (I for instance came to Oslo on holiday for weekend).

      Also thanks for bringing that stats page to my attention; that will be extremely useful in general.

      • http://movito.net/ Fredrik Matheson

        Sure thing!

        I’m guessing that our strong and stable job market is a more powerful driver than the increase in the number of Norwegian women studying in the UK. But it’s not as snazzy an explanation!

        If you’re going to look at this with some rigor, what I’d like to know is what’s behind the growth of NESMs in Norway since 2006. SSB will have all sorts of data on NESMs – civil status, profession, age and so on. I look forward to your follow-up article!

      • Anne Beate Feehly

        i studied in england,found the men to be short,ugly and always in the pub,preferred american men

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