07:14 GMT +321 July 2019
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    Tables Turned: Emigration From Sweden Eclipses 19th Century Mass Exodus to US

    © AFP 2019 / LEIF R JANSSON / SCANPIX SWEDEN
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    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (161)
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    Despite the fact that Sweden is universally regarded as one of the premier welfare states, Swedes are moving away at an alarming rate. Recent figures indicate an ongoing mass-migration, even higher than that of the 19th century, when thousands of poverty-stricken Swedes left their home country for a better life.

    A police bus is parked by the entrance to Arlanda airport, outside Stockholm
    © AFP 2019 / Johan Nilsson / TT NEWS AGENCY
    Recent data from the country's official number-cruncher Statistics Sweden (SCB) indicate that no less than 55,830 Swedes left the Nordic nation in 2015. Currently, the rate of migration from Sweden is estimated to have doubled compared to 30 years ago and is on par with the period of mass exodus of Swedes to the United States in the 19th century, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter reported. Moreover, the largest number of people to leave Sweden in a single year during that period was 50,786, which was recorded in 1887.

    The return of foreign-born residents is believed to be the foremost reason for the surge in departures. Around 24 percent of the returnees were born in Asia, compared to 10 percent born in another Nordic country. A third of the total number of departures are nevertheless people born in Sweden.

    Remarkably, the statistics from SCB also reflected a change in émigrés' preferences, which mirror the economic situation in Scandinavia. Conversely, Swedish emigration to Norway has decreased by 58 percent since 2011. Norway, which has, ever since the discovery of the vast oil and gas resources in the Norwegian Sea in 1960s, attracted fellow Northerners with huge salaries and career perspectives, is at present suffering from unemployment amid an economic slump, has become a much less desirable destination.

    Interior of a tent at a temporary tent camp at Revinge outside the city Lund in southern Sweden
    © AFP 2019 / TT NEWS AGENCY / Drago Prvulovic
    By contrast, the number of Finns moving to Sweden has grown over the last four years. The 2,733 Finns who settled in Sweden in 2015 are the largest amount during the past decade. Finns have for 800 years formed Sweden's largest ethnic minority group ever since the Swedish conquest of Finland. In Sweden, Finns and their descendants constitute up to 430,000 people in a nation of roughly 10 million. In the 1970s, Finns were the major immigrant group in Sweden, as opposed to Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans in 2015.

    Since the 1940s, immigration to Sweden has continually outweighed emigration and has in recent decades became the major factor behind Sweden's population growth. In 2015, 1.6 million Swedish inhabitants were born abroad, equivalent to over 16 percent.

    On the other hand, the US remains the country with the highest proportion of people of Swedish descent. At present, about eight million Americans have Swedish roots, of which 4.5 million have been confirmed as Swedish Americans. Most of them trace their ancestry from Swedish immigrants in the 19th century, when a total of 1.3 million Swedes settled in the US due to population growth, lack of industrial jobs and farmlands, as well as repetitive crop failures. Today, Minnesota remains the state with the most inhabitants of Swedish descent by a wide margin.

    ​Among other, Swedish-born Alexander Samuelsson became famous for having designed the trademark curvy Coca-Cola bottle.

    Topic:
    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (161)

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    emigration, migrant crisis, immigration, Scandinavia, Sweden, United States, Finland
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