Immigration to Sweden
Immigration to Sweden is the process by which people migrate to Sweden to reside in the country. Many, but not all, become Swedish citizens. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants, settlement patterns, impact on upward social mobility, crime, and voting behaviour. As the Swedish state does not base any statistics on ethnicity, there are no exact numbers on the total number of people of immigrant background in Sweden.
As of 2010, 1.33 million people or 14.3% of the inhabitants in Sweden were foreign-born. Of these, 859,000 (64.6%) were born outside the European Union and 477,000 (35.4%) were born in another EU member state. Sweden has been transformed from a nation of net emigration ending after World War I to a nation of net immigration from World War II onward. In 2013, immigration reached its highest level since records began with 115,845 people migrating to Sweden while the total population grew by 88,971.
81,300 applied for asylum in 2014, which was an increase of 50% compared to 2013, and the most since 1992. 47% of them come from Syria, followed by 21% from the horn of Africa (mostly Eritrea and Somalia). 77% (63,000) requests were approved but it differs greatly between different groups. Nearly two weeks into October 2015, a record figure of 86,223 asylum applications was reached. In 2016, 28,939 people applied for asylum.
Immigrants in Sweden are mostly concentrated in the urban areas of Svealand and Götaland and the largest foreign born populations in Sweden come from Finland, Iraq, Poland, Iran, former Yugoslavia and Syria.
- 1 History
- 2 Contemporary immigration
- 3 Demographics
- 3.1 Current population of immigrants and their descendants
- 3.2 Immigration
- 3.3 Country of origin for persons born abroad
- 3.4 Ethnicity
- 3.4.1 East and Southeast Asians in Sweden
- 3.4.2 South Asians in Sweden
- 3.4.3 South Americans in Sweden
- 3.4.4 Albanians in Sweden
- 3.4.5 Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden
- 3.4.6 Arabs in Sweden
- 3.4.7 Berbers in Sweden
- 3.4.8 Bosnians in Sweden
- 3.4.9 Finns in Sweden
- 3.4.10 Iranians in Sweden
- 3.4.11 Indians in Sweden
- 3.4.12 Kurds in Sweden
- 3.4.13 Romani in Sweden
- 3.4.14 Serbs in Sweden
- 3.4.15 Sri Lankans in Sweden
- 3.4.16 Somalis in Sweden
- 3.4.17 Turks in Sweden
- 4 Effects of immigration
- 5 Politics
- 6 Legal issues
- 7 Media coverage
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- World War II
Immigration increased markedly with World War II. Historically, the most numerous of foreign born nationalities are ethnic Germans from Germany and other Scandinavians from Denmark and Norway. In short order, 70,000 war children were evacuated from Finland, of which 15,000 remained in Sweden. Also, many of Denmark's nearly 7,000 Jews who were evacuated to Sweden decided to remain there.
- 1945 to 1967
During the 1950s and 1960s, the recruitment of migrant workers was an important factor of immigration. The Nordic countries signed a trade agreement in 1952, establishing a common labour market and free movement across borders. This migration within the Nordic countries, especially from Finland to Scandinavia, was essential to create the tax-base required for the expansion of the strong public sector now characteristic of Scandinavia. This continued until 1967, when the labour market became saturated, and Sweden introduced new immigration controls.
On a smaller scale, Sweden took in political refugees from Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia after their countries were invaded by the Soviet Union in 1956 and 1968 respectively. Some tens of thousands of American draft dodgers from the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s also found refuge in Sweden.
Since the early 1970s, immigration to Sweden has been mostly due to refugee migration, especially from former Yugoslavia (due to the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s) but also from countries in the Middle East and Latin America.
In 2009, immigration reached its highest level since records began with 102,280 people migrating to Sweden while the total population grew by 84,335. In 2010, 32,000 people applied for asylum to Sweden, a 25% increase from 2009, one of the highest amount in Swedish since 1992 and the Balkan wars. However the number of people that were granted asylum stayed the same as previous years. In 2009, Sweden had the fourth largest number of asylum applications in the EU and the largest number per capita after Cyprus and Malta.
During 2010 the most common reason for immigrating to Sweden was:
- Labour migrants (21%)
- Family reunification (20%)
- Immigrating under the EU/EES rules of free movement (18%)
- Students (14%)
- Refugees (12%)
In 2010, 32,000 people applied for asylum to Sweden, a 25% increase from 2009, however the number of people who received asylum did not increase because the large increase was much due to the allowing of Serbian nationals to travel without a visa to Sweden. In 2009, Sweden had the fourth largest number of asylum applications in the EU and the largest number per capita after Cyprus and Malta. Sweden has the highest asylum immigration per million inhabitants in Europe.
The number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden increased drastically beginning in 2014. 81,300 applied for asylum in 2014, which was an increase of 50% compared to 2013. It was the most since 1992, when 84,018 persons applied for asylum during the war in Yugoslavia. 47% of the asylum seekers today come from Syria as a result of the civil war there, 21% from the horn of Africa (mostly Eritrea and Somalia), 7% from Balkan and 4% from Afghanistan and Pakistan. 77% (63,000) requests were approved but it differs greatly between different groups, such as Syrians and Eritreans where nearly everyone gets their application approved. In February 2015, it was expected that 90,000 apply for asylum in 2015 and 80,000 in 2016. The Swedish Migration Board currently has shortage of 15,000 accommodations so they have to rent from private actors. In the end of April 2015, the figure for the year 2015 was revised down to 68,000-88,000 with 80,000 as the main scenario. Long processing times and that the situation in Iraq has not developed in the way the Swedish Migration Board feared are the reason for the revised figures. Nearly two weeks into October 2015, 86,223 had applied for asylum so far during the year. That was a record, surpassing the 1992 figure of 84,018 during the war in Yugoslavia. Emergency accommodation such as drill halls or offices is needed.
A series of violent riots starting with the 2008 Malmö mosque riots and including the 2009 Malmö anti-Israel riots, 2010 Rinkeby riots, 2013 Stockholm riots, 2016 Sweden riots and 2017 Rinkeby riots, during which immigrant youth torched cars and buildings and threw rocks at police, led many Swedes to question Sweden's ability to integrate migrants.
By November 2015, Swedish willingness to accept large numbers of migrants "was petering out."
Current population of immigrants and their descendants
There are no exact numbers on the ethnic background of migrants and their descendants in Sweden as the Swedish state does not base any statistics on ethnicity. This is however not to be confused with the migrants' national backgrounds which are being recorded.
As of 2011, a Statistics Sweden study showed that around 27% or 2,500,000 inhabitants of Sweden had full or partial foreign background and around 73% or 7,000,000 had no foreign background. Of these inhabitants; 1,427,296 persons living in Sweden were born abroad. In addition; 430,253 persons were born in Sweden to two parents born abroad and another 666,723 persons had one parent born abroad (with the other parent born in Sweden).
In 1998, there were 1,746,921 inhabitants of foreign background and their descendants(foreign born and children of international migrants) composing around 20% of the Swedish population. Around 1,216,659 or 70% came from Scandinavia and the rest of Europe and 530,262 or 30% came from the rest of the world.
In 2011, with the total population being 9,562,556; roughly 15% of the population was born abroad, 5% of the population was born in Sweden to two parents born abroad, and another 7% was born in Sweden to one parent born abroad. Resulting in 27% of the Swedish population being of at least partly foreign descent.
Child bride immigration
In April 2016, Reuters reported that at least 70 girls under 18 were living married in asylum centres in Stockholm and Malmö. Reuters added: "In Sweden, the lowest age for sex is 15 and marriage 18."
Country of origin for persons born abroad
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||28,832||29,349||58,181|
|China (excluding Hong Kong)||11,820||17,820||29,640|
|United States of America||10,487||9,527||20,014|
|Total immigrant population||890,095||894,402||1,784,497|
East and Southeast Asians in Sweden
115,331 people in Sweden (about 1% of the population) are born in Asia, of those 43,000 are born in East Asia and 72,000 in Southeast Asia. The largest groups are Thai (36,000), Chinese (28,000) and Vietnamese (16,000). East and Southeast Asians have moved to Sweden for very different reasons. Many Thai and Filipinos (11,500) arrived in Sweden via marriage while Vietnamese and Burmese (1,500) came as refugees. The group also consist of 10,000 South Koreans, of which the overwhelming majority came through international adoptions in the 1970s and 1980s. The Asian population is spread all over the country with some groups over-represented in Stockholm.
South Asians in Sweden
Unlike its Scandinavian neighbours, Sweden does not have a large South Asian population. In 2013, there were 46,231 South Asian born people living in Sweden, which represents about 0.5% of the entire population.
South Americans in Sweden
66 912 people in Sweden are born in South America. The largest groups are Chileans (28 000), Colombians (11 500) and Peruvians (7 200). During Pinochet’s regime in Chile Sweden granted asylum to several thousand refugee who left Chile during these years. Also Argentinians and Uruguayans who fled their dictatorship were granted asylum but to a lesser extent than Chileans. Since the democratisation of South America the immigration to Sweden changed from refugees to family reunification and more lately to migration for employment and education purposes. The fastest growing group is currently Brazilians followed by Colombians.
Albanians in Sweden
There are more than 50,000 ethnic Albanians in Sweden. They come from all Albanian-dominated parts of the Balkans (see Great Albania). Many Albanians came from Kosovo in the early 1990s because of the wars in the Balkans.
Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden
Assyrians in Sweden numbered around 120,000 people as of 2009, or 1.3% of the total population of Sweden. Their size doubled in the period of 2002 to 2009. Sweden has a particularly large Assyrians/Syriacs community that grew substantially during the Iraq war. The Swedish city of Södertälje has alone taken in more Iraqi refugees than the United States and Canada combined.
Södertälje has the largest group of Assyrians/Syriacs of any city in Europe, with more than 30,000 Assyrian/Syriacs living in Södertälje (amounting to 50% of the population), and around 50,000 Assyrians/Syriacs living in Stockholm County. Södertalje is often nicknamed "little Baghdad" or "Mesopotälje" owing to the number of Iraqi-based inhabitants in the city.
Arabs in Sweden
There are around 211,000 Arabs in Sweden, which makes them one of the largest minorities in Sweden if counted as one minority group. However, Arabs come from 18 different nations and represent several different religious groups. Arabs are spread all over Sweden with high concentrations in Malmö, Norrköping, Örebro, Uppsala, Stockholm and Gothenburg. The largest groups originate from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Arabs are one of the fastest-growing groups in Sweden because of ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Libya. Even though the majority of Arabs arrived in Sweden as asylum seekers and via family reunification, large groups also have arrived lately as labour migrants.
Berbers in Sweden
Bosnians in Sweden
As of 31 December 2009 there are 56,127 people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Sweden. This figure does not include Yugoslavs of Bosnian and Herzegovinian origin who immigrated before 1992. Most of these immigrants came to Sweden during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.
Finns in Sweden
Sweden Finns (ruotsinsuomalaiset in Finnish, sverigefinnar in Swedish) are a Finnish speaking minority in Sweden. The Finnish-speaking Swedes are not to be confused with the Swedish speaking Finland-Swedes in Finland (and Sweden). In year 2008 there were over 675 000 people in Sweden who were either born in Finland or have at least one parent or grandparent who was born in Finland.
Iranians in Sweden
There are over 90,000 Iranians in Sweden. Regions where Swedish-Iranians primarily inhabit include cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. There are approximately 63,828 people born in Iran living in Sweden today, as well as 28,600 people born in Sweden with at least one parent born in Iran. They are one of Sweden’s largest minorities, accounting for nearly one percent of the population.
The first generation of 5,000 Iranian refugees fled to Sweden in 1980-81, most of them were middle-aged, middle-class socialists who were opposing the revolution or fleeing conscription during the Iran-Iraq war. Between 1980 and 1988 almost 20,000 Iranian citizens found asylum in Sweden.
About 60% percent of them go on to higher education – far more than the Swedish average (45 percent) or the average for other minorities (37 percent). Iranian culture – with its emphasis on education – may be part of the reason for their success.
Indians in Sweden
Indian-born constitutes the largest group among South Asians in Sweden with approximately 20,000 residents. About half of them came to Sweden through international adoptions and have limited connection to their country of birth. During the last decade, the number of Indians who moved to Sweden because of employment has seen an increase and the last few years Indians have been among the fastest-growing immigrant groups.
Kurds in Sweden
There are around 60,000 Kurds living in Sweden. Most of them live in the capital Stockholm, Malmö or in Uppsala. A majority of Kurdish political refugees choose Sweden as their host country and therefore they have a cultural presence in Sweden.
Romani in Sweden
Romani in Sweden were formerly known as zigenare (gypsies) for Roma and tattare for Romani Travellers. More recently the romer has been adopted as a collective designation referring to both groups, with resande (Travellers) also referring to the latter only. Currently, there are approximately 50,000 Romani living in Sweden, many of them being Finnish Kale who immigrated in the 1960s. The latter, particularly women, often wear traditional dress in public.
Romani in Sweden have periodically suffered at the hands of the state. For example, the state has subjected children to being forcibly taken into foster care, or even forcibly sterilised Romani women. Prejudice against Romanies is widespread, with most stereotypes portraying Romani as welfare cheats, shoplifters, and con artists. In the 1992, Bert Karlsson, one of the leaders of Ny Demokrati, declared that "Gypsies are responsible for 90% of crime against senior citizens" in Sweden. Previously he had tried to ban the entry of Romani to his Skara Sommarland theme park, because he considered them responsible for theft. Some shopkeepers, employers and landlords continue to discriminate Romani.
The situation is, however, improving for the Roma. There are several Romani organisations that promote Romani rights and culture in Sweden. Since 2000, Romani is an officially recognised minority language in Sweden. The Swedish government also has a special standing Delegation for Romani Issues. There is now even a Romani folk high school in Gothenburg.
Serbs in Sweden
There are around 80,000 Serbs living in Sweden. The Swedish Serbs constituted a low percentage of the Swedish population prior to the 1960s. Some came after World War II, mostly seeking political asylum. The greatest proportion of Serbs came together with Greeks, Italians and Turks under the visa agreements in times of severe labour shortages or when particular skills were deficient within Sweden. During the 1960s and 1970s, agreements were signed with the governments of Yugoslavia to help Sweden overcome its severe labour shortage. Bosnian Serbs and Croatian Serbs migrated in another wave during and after the Yugoslav wars. Another wave of Kosovo Serbs came during the Kosovo war in 1999.
Sri Lankans in Sweden
There are over 7,000 Sri Lankans who are residing in Sweden. Among them are children who have been adopted by families of Swedish origin. Recent migrations are mostly caused by migrations for technology related occupations and higher studies. The Sri Lankan embassy in Sweden regularly organises events that showcase the culture with a focus on improving tourism and business relations.
Somalis in Sweden
According to Statistics Sweden, there were 31,734 immigrants from Somalia in 2009. In 2012, the number had increased to 43,966. Most arrived as asylum seekers and through family reunification services in the 1990s and the 2000s. Since the mid-2000s, there has been an increasing secondary migration of Somali immigrants and EU citizens from Sweden and other Scandinavian countries toward the United Kingdom. This exodus has been attributed to a desire to reunite with family members, to find work and to obtain international education in an environment that is perceived as friendlier.
Turks in Sweden
Effects of immigration
Immigration has a significant effect on the demographics of Sweden. Since World War II, Sweden has like other developed nations turned into a country with a low fertility rate. Due to the high birthrates in early post-war years and the steep decline in the late 20th century, Sweden has one of the oldest populations in the world. In 2009, 102,280 immigrants entered Sweden while the total population grew by 84,335.
The high immigration rate, low fertility and high death rate is gradually transforming the previously homogeneous nation of Sweden into a multicultural country. The Sweden Democrats has criticised the country's current immigration policies, claiming they can pose a major demographic threat to Sweden in the future. It is expected that the Muslim minority in Sweden will grow from 5% to 10% by 2030.
A 2014 survey of several studies found that people with foreign background are, on average, two times more likely to commit crimes than those born in Sweden. This figure has remained stable since the 1970s, despite the changes in numbers of immigrants and their country of origin. A 2005 study by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention found that people of foreign background were 2.5 times more likely to be suspected of crimes than people with a Swedish background. A 2013 study done by Stockholm University showed that this difference was due to the socioeconomic differences (e.g. family income, growing up in a poor neighborhood) between people born in Sweden and those born abroad. Furthermore, native-born Swedes with high levels of unemployment are also over-represented in crime statistics.
Some studies reporting a link on immigration and crime have been criticized for not taking into account the population's age, employment and education level, all of which affect level of crime. In general, research that takes these factors into account does not support the idea that there is a link between immigration and crime.
A study published in 1997 attempted to explain the higher than average crime rates among immigrants to Sweden. It found that between 20 and 25 percent of asylum seekers to Sweden had experienced physical torture, and many suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Other refugees had witnessed a close relative being killed.
A study on crime and immigration from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention found that people from North Africa were 23 times more likely to commit rape than Swedes, while people from Iraq were 20 times more likely, people from Romania and Bulgaria were 18 times more likely, people from Sub-Saharan Africa were 16.5 times as likely, and people from Iran, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia were 10 times more likely.
Immigrants discrimination by law enforcement, according to a 2006 government report which may be reflected in the differences between convictions and those simply suspected of crimes. A 2008 Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention report claimed that there was "evidence of discrimination towards individuals of foreign descent in the Swedish judicial system."
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2011)|
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2011)|
- Outline of Sweden
- Swedish nationality law
- Refugee controversy in Sjöbo
- Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy
- Ageing of Europe
- List of countries by foreign-born population
- List of sovereign states and dependent territories by fertility rate
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