Swedish welfare model traps immigrants in poverty

Screen shot from this video. Commentary.

During recent years, Sweden has had an unusually open policy towards refugee and family immigrants. The Swedish Migration Agency estimates that around 105,000 individuals will apply for asylum only this year, corresponding to over one percent of Sweden’s entire population. In addition, many family migrants are annually united with their relatives. But the open attitude towards granting immigrants asylum is not matched by good opportunities on the labor market. An in-depth study by the daily paper Dagens Nyheter shows that many migrants struggle to find decent work even ten years after entering the country.

Dagens Nyheter has used public records to track all 24,567 individuals who were granted residence permit in Sweden in 2004. Ten years later, 15,740 of these individuals were of working age and residing in the country. The median income for the refugees in the group was found to be as low as £880 a month. The family immigrants of refugees earned even less.

Ten years after arriving in the country, their median income was merely £360 a month. These very low figures suggest that a large segment of the group is still relying on welfare payments. Dagens Nyheter can show that at least four out of ten refugees ten years after arrival are supported by welfare. The paper acknowledges that this is likely an underestimation, since some municipalities have not sent the paperwork required to match individuals to welfare receipts.

In theory, one could expect the Nordic welfare states to excel at integration. After all, the public sectors provide a range of goods such as tax-financed education including university studies, as well as tax-financed health care. Such programs can encourage up-ward mobility for marginalized groups such as immigrants. But there is also another side to the coin.

The combination of generous benefits, high taxes and rigid labour regulations reduce the incentives and possibilities to find work. Entrapment in welfare dependency is therefore extensive, in particular amongst immigrants…


Related discussion from The Commentator.

And here is The Guardian’s leftist take on the recent killing in Gothenburg: “Sweden shooting puts focus on life in ‘ghettoes without hope’ ”

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