A walk in the woods: the effects of ethnicity, social class, and gender among urban Norwegian adolescents

  • Tore Bjerke Lillehammer University College
  • Olve Krange NINA - The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research


Objectives:  The main objective was to study the influences of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors on a popular Norwegian outdoor activity: walking in the woods.

Design: Data from the large Young in Oslo 2006 (YiO 2006) youth survey is used to investigate the relationship between ethnic and class background and gender in relation to hiking in the woods. In the representative survey sample, 11 529 adolescent respondents aged 16 to 19 were asked how often they participated in hiking in the woods during the season. 

Results: Analyses show that more girls than boys are active hikers and that fewer descendents from non-western immigrants and working-class youngsters are active compared to ethnic Norwegian and middle-class adolescents, respectively. Furthermore, cultural aspects of class seem to be more important than economic ones. A logistic regression analysis shows that the relationship between country of origin and hiking is significantly reduced when class measures are introduced into the model, which implies that the initial difference between ethnic minorities and ethnic Norwegians to some extent can be considered to be a class phenomenon.   

Conclusion: Norwegian authorities express great concern over health issues among the large group of non-western descendents in Norway, pointing to the Nordic tradition of outdoor recreation as one means of being physically active. This paper concludes that in the effort to recruit ‘immigrant' youngsters to outdoor activities, one should keep in mind that a large proportion of the minority population also belongs to the working classes.

Author Biography

Tore Bjerke, Lillehammer University College
professor emeritus
How to Cite
Bjerke, T., & Krange, O. (2011). A walk in the woods: the effects of ethnicity, social class, and gender among urban Norwegian adolescents. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 2. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2056