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Integration in Sweden - Statistics & Facts

For Sweden, after having been a country with more emigration than immigration for many hundred years, the picture changed through the 20th century. First, from the interwar period and onwards, mainly labor migrants arrived in the Nordic country, but from the 1970s, more refugees and asylum seekers began to arrive. This peaked in 2015, when a large number of Syrian refugees came to Sweden. The integration of immigrants in Sweden shows a mixed picture. From time to time, there are reports in international media about the rising crime in some of the urban areas in Sweden dominated by immigrants. The riots during Easter 2022, which started after a Danish right extremist set the Quran on fire, further highlighted the social challenges facing parts of the country.

In 2021, over two million of Sweden's population of 10.45 million were born outside of Sweden. Of these, people from Asian countries made up the largest group with over 800,000 inhabitants. Syrians was the largest group of foreign-born citizens in Sweden that year.

Lower employment rates than the general population

The statistics underline that there is a gap between citizens born in Sweden and foreign-born citizens regarding employment. For instance, whereas the employment rate among the country's foreign-born population is just above 60 percent, the overall employment rate in the country is 67.3 percent. Moreover, where the unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent among people born outside of Sweden, it is just short of nine percent among the general population. What is more, there is a clear gap between men and women born outside of Sweden, with the employment rate being 10 percentage points higher among the former group. There is also a large gap in the employment rates of Sweden's foreign-born population between people with different levels of education.

Looking at income levels, inhabitants born in Sweden had the highest average disposable income. Of those born outside of Sweden, those from America and Oceania had the highest income levels. On the other hand, Africans had the lowest average income. Furthermore, the number of average weekly working hours was slightly higher among Sweden's foreign-born population than among the native-born.

Education: A gap in performance but positive development

As the number of foreign-born citizens in Sweden has increased, so has the number of pupils in pre-primary schools with another mother tongue than Swedish. So, too, has the share of pupils in primary schools with a foreign background, which reached 27 percent in the academic year 2021/22. However, there is a significant difference in the dropout rates between Swedish-born and foreign-born citizens. In 2021, the share of youth born outside of Sweden who were not in education, employment, or training was seven percent, compared to 4.5 among the youth born in Sweden. On the positive side, the trend has been sinking over the past decade.

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