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Swedish immigration policy and politics: A window on Europe

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Presentation on theme: "Swedish immigration policy and politics: A window on Europe"— Presentation transcript:

1 Swedish immigration policy and politics: A window on Europe
Daniel Hiebert Metropolis British Columbia, and University of British Columbia

2 Outline Context: the demographic challenge
Basic facts about Sweden… and Swedish politics Swedish migration and integration policy and administration Possible changes to migration and integration policy The lessons of Sweden

3 Context The demographic challenge of below-replacement fertility… general responses: Ignore the problem (e.g., Italy) Increase net migration (e.g., Canada) Raise productivity and elongate working careers (e.g., Japan) Restore fertility (e.g., Sweden)

4 Sweden: some basic facts
Population > 9 million Size roughly equivalent to Québec Government elected by modified proportional representation Complex and flexible system with several quirks Current government: right-centre coalition led by the Moderate Party (conservative) Next election: September 2010

5 Immigrants in Sweden Total population > 1 million (~12.5%)
Recent flows: 100,000 per year Top source countries ( ): Finland Former Yugoslavia Iraq Iran Poland Norway Denmark Germany Turkey Chile

6 Swedish politics Popular opinion evenly divided
Right-centre group (49% in latest poll) Pink-red-green group (44%) Wild card: Sweden Democrats (populist party) 4% rule (currently 4.5% in polls) Anti-immigration policy; intention to dismantle multiculturalism and offer incentives to either assimilate or leave Sweden; recently expelled vocal racists from party; irony… surprisingly strong immigrant presence in party

7 Popular opinion on migration
Not as ‘troubled’ as other European countries Critical dividing point is on the asylum system Negative side: concern over ‘bogus’ refugees and enclaves, parallel lives Positive side: support for humanitarian policies including asylum Complex relationship to party politics (e.g., Social Democrats)

8 Swedish immigration policy
EU migration: open borders, unplanned, unregulated, invisible immigrants Open Labour Market but not social support Mentality of Sweden as part of Europe Non-EU migration: permanent immigration is dominated by family reunification and asylum (mostly from Islamic countries) (nearly 90% of total) Mentality of immigration as a gift to outsiders who are victims (public debate is about asylum and ethical issues) Very different from Canada

9 Admission systems Humanitarian Family Economic
Resettlement program (~2000 annually) NO TRANSPORTATION LOANS As in Canada, resettlement location is assigned Asylum system Similar institution to IRB Family Sponsorship requirement … similar to Canada Economic Stepwise, employment driven

10 Integration in Sweden Swedish society defined by:
Affluence Welfare state with an ethic of redistribution Goal of gender equality Transparency of the state and the private sphere Widely shared cultural norms Asylum migration (especially from Islamic countries) is popularly interpreted as a potential challenge to these core values Frequent statements by Sweden Democrats reinforce these views

11 Managing Swedish migration and integration
National government Ministry of Justice includes Minister for Migration and Asylum policy (Tobias Billström) Ministry of Integration and Gender Equity (Nyamko Sabuni) Establishes integration policy, standards and provides funding Ministry of Employment (LM issues and employment assistance) (T. Billström, as of 7 July!) Regional government: Negligible role Municipal government: Key role Develops and administers most programs Adult education Social work and counselling Social housing Some examples of inter-government cooperation Negligible role for NGOs and other partners

12 Newcomer perspective on services
All employment related services: Ministry of Employment Labour offices distributed throughout Sweden All other services: Municipal government Fairly coherent and consistent package across jurisdictions But, inevitable scale differences Connection (through municipality) to education, housing, social welfare

13 Special case of asylum Similar to Canada, but some key differences
With temporary humanitarian visa, there is an offer of housing (ABO vs. EBO) Context of social housing Self-housed asylum seekers live in large cities State-housed live in periphery Municipalities have a choice to participate Interesting connection between asylum and funding for municipalities Economic outcomes… Recently, asylum seekers entitled to work permits But exceptionally low employment rates

14 Changing migration policy
As in Canada, parties are not very far apart but there are some significant differences Left alliance: SDs determined to disperse immigrants and refugees (“we will not let refugees live where they choose”) Right alliance: determined to raise economic immigration Not through open-ended system like Canada By opening existing employer-driven system of stepwise immigration … actively planning and building pathways Cautious approach with input from org. labour

15 Changing integration policy
Sweeping change planned for December, 2010, if Moderate party is still in power Sense of failed outcomes in refugee and family integration Process of ’recentralization’ Areas of municipal responsibility will be shifted to the national Ministry of Employment Focus will be on preparation for employment, with stronger incentives to work (e.g., bonuses) Core indicator of success will be acquisition of a job Aside: EU defined integration measures for all states to use in 2009 (Sweden led this initiative) Dominated by employment, income, education

16 New European integration indicators
Employment (standard measures) Education Average educational attainment % low-achieving 15-year olds Drop-out rates Social inclusion Median income; % low income % property ownership % perceiving health status as poor Active citizenship % citizenship acquisition % immigrants among elected representatives

17 Perspective of the newcomer
‘One-stop shopping’ for services Plan is for ‘personal coach’ for each newcomer Unclear whether the left coalition would support this… but unlikely Municipal governments will resist change

18 Aside: on data How does the Swedish government monitor outcomes?
Population register data system… all records linked for individuals Widely available to researchers (note: there is no census) Excellent ‘hard’, longitudinal data; poor ‘soft’ data

19 Challenges of the Swedish system
Dominance of high-need asylum newcomers Regionalization through housing policy Unsatisfactory economic outcomes Perceived ghettoization in larger cities E.g., riots in Malmoe in June, 2009 Potential for hostile public debate Limits policy development General lack of policy-research interface Socially, immigration is eclipsed in importance by focus on fertility and reproduction

20 The lessons of Sweden Policy evolution does not necessarily only go in one direction Policy cycle: devolution and then reconcentration Excellent data helps in evaluating program outcomes Swedish population registry is a 100% data system Widely available in government and to academic researchers Surprising outcomes (e.g., housing of asylum seekers)

21 Sweden as ‘Europe light’
Sweden has all the debates of Europe, but less of the acrimony Migration issues muted by demography; no sense of urgency Also muted by tradition of social democracy and the welfare state Unfortunately, the less rancorous debates in Sweden are unlikely to influence other European countries Strong interest in Canada on the part of Swedes Potential for new debates as employers become more prominent in the immigration system


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