Academic Literature

Refugees and Jobs in Sweden – A relatively slow entry process and long-term outcomes below those of the average worker

Refugee immigration to Sweden has been sizeable for a long time and reached an all times high in 2015 in terms of the number of asylum seekers. The numbers of granted residence permits for refugees have also been high in later years and can be expected to increase in the next few years due to the surge in asylum seekers (see Figure 1). It can furthermore be noted that the number of asylum seeking children was around 70 000 (of which roughly half arrived without their parents) in 2015.
All in all, the numbers of asylum seekers and refugee immigrants are large enough to imply that successful integration will be important not only for the immigrants but also for native Swedes and previous migrants. The recent numbers are also significant in the sense that they imply challenges to a large number of Swedish institutions in the short run. This is obviously true for refugee reception institutions, but also for schools and for the housing market. However, if the integration process should prove to be successful, this would alleviate future labour market problems associated with an aging population and contribute to better long-run public finances. And an unsuccessful integration would instead make such long-run challenges tougher. Hence, there is no doubt that integration will be a key issue in Sweden in the years to come.
In this paper we present integration patterns for earlier cohorts of immigrants to shed light on what we should expect given earlier experiences.
We describe the short- and long-term patterns of labour market entry and integration among Non-Western, predominantly non-labour, immigrants to Sweden. Our main sample considers the 1990–2014 period. The patterns of time to first contact and labour market entry vary with business cycle conditions, country of origin and other background characteristics. But the main message is the remarkable stability of a relatively slow entry process and long-term outcomes below those of the average worker. The number of jobs before the “first real job” (entry) is limited and the first employer contact is for many a port to a more stable position. First jobs are comparatively often found in small, low-wage firms, which over time have become increasingly present in service industries. Our discussion of policy experiences suggests several margins and factors affecting the labour market outcomes of recent migrants, but also indicates that no single reform or measure is likely to in itself radically change the patterns.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Labour market entry of non-labour migrants – Swedish evidence – IFAU


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