18:19 GMT14 April 2021
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    Immigrants from Africa and the Middle East ranked lowest in terms of self-sufficiency at 38 and 36 percent respectively, almost half the figure for Swedish-born residents and immigrants from the neighbouring Nordic countries.

    The majority of working-age foreign-born Swedish residents have not achieved economic self-sufficiency, a new report by the research foundation Entrepreneurship Forum has shown.

    In studying the degree of self-sufficiency among immigrants, economists Johan Eklund and Johan Larsson found that over 600,000 able-bodied foreign-born residents in the country of 10 million were not self-sufficient, that is, earned below SEK 12,600 a month ($1,260).

    Immigrants from Africa and the Middle East ranked lowest in terms of self-sufficiency, at 38 and 36 percent respectively. They also ranked the lowest in terms of employment, at 63 and 56 percent. Corresponding estimates for Swedish-born residents and immigrants from the neighbouring Nordic countries was 73 percent and 89 percent, twice as high.

    Immigrants from southern Europe and the Balkans occupied an intermediate position with a self-sufficiency rate of 59 percent and employment rate of 77 percent.

    According to the researchers, the unemployment gap between the native and the foreign-born is among the largest in Europe, at 3.8 percent opposed to 15.4 percent. Sweden also had considerable economic exclusion. In 2018, 772,000 working age people were fully dependent on grants and social benefits (which is equivalent to 13.3 percent of the workforce).

    Furthermore, the authors suggested that education increases the likelihood of self-sufficiency to varying degrees depending on the country of origin. For people from Africa and the Middle East, education and, above all, higher education have a weaker effect than for those coming from the Nordic countries.

    “The reason for this calls for further research, but possible explanations are either that formal education levels are overestimated among the foreign-born or that education from certain regions is simply significantly worse than Swedish education,” the researchers concluded.

    The conspicuous absence of the report from Sweden's mainstream media, which tend to avoid problematic issues involving immigration, has triggered a sarcastic response. Steget Efter (“The Next Step”), a popular comic artist, made a humorous depiction of the media's burying the report.

    Tweet: “Have you seen the new report on the self-sufficiency of the foreign-born?” “Thanks, I will dig a little.”

    Sweden has been betting on mass immigration in recent decades, and was one of Europe's most welcoming countries during the 2015 migrant crisis. At its height, many Swedish media were hopeful that immigration would lead to an economic boom, describing the influx of refugees as a “rain of competence”, among others. In 2015, Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson, the boss of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, an umbrella organisation joining 14 trade unions, predicted a “supereconomy” with 4-5 percent growth owing to the influx of personnel. However, merely 5 percent of immigrants had a non-subsidised job after an establishment phase, the Swedish Employment Service reported in 2017.

    Sweden used to be one of Europe's most homogeneous nations until the 1990s. However, in recent decades alone, the share of immigrants and their descendants has quickly soared to more than a quarter of the Swedish population of 10 million. Owing to demographic trends including higher nativity rates among the newcomers, the share of non-Swedes is expected to reach half of the population at some point in the 21st century.


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    migrant crisis, immigration, Scandinavia, Sweden
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