• Rank: 1 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 78
  • HEALTH 62

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Country of immigration since 1950's, with around 15% of the population foreign-born and 75,000-100,000 newcomers every year
  • Increasing numbers of family migrants (50% children) and humanitarian migrants (nearly 50% from SY in 2013)
  • Small but increasing number of migrant workers since 2008 (around 1/4 high-skilled, 1/4 seasonal, 1/2 general workers) but 50% decline in number of international students since 2011
  • 2014 saw centre-right minority replaced by centre-left minority government, with cross-party ‘December Agreement’ in opposition to far-right Swedish Democrats
  • Overall employment rate barely affected by crisis and remains at 80%, one of the highest in developed world
  • SE public have the most positive attitudes towards immigrants like other Nordic countries and traditional countries of immigration: >80% think that SE is right to give immigrants equal rights as SE citizens, enriched culturally and economically and a good place to live for immigrants

Key Common Statistics

Country of net migration since:% Non-EU citizens% Foreign-born% Non-EU of foreign-born% Non-EU university-educated % from low or medium-developed (HDI) country
UN 2010 data in 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013Note: Adults aged 18-64, Eurostat 2013Eurostat 2013

Changes in policy

  • Since 2010, no major change overall in SE's ambitious integration policies, with focus on implementing the 2009 Introduction Act and Discrimination Act to reach all those in need, measure impact and make it more effective
  • SE set new high standards for labour market integration with 2009 Act replicated in FI and discussed across Europe (+3 points on labour market mobility policies since 2010) 
  • New income/housing requirements for family reunion, with favourable exemptions for long-settled and vulnerable groups (-2 points on family reunion since 2010)
  • Children arriving with undocumented parents can pursue their education up through secondary level under the Education Act (+4 on education since 2013)
  • Under 2013 law, undocumented migrant patients now benefit from the same healthcare as asylum-seekers, though both based on individual decisions about what care 'cannot be postponed'
  • 2009 Discrimination Act creates single comprehensive law and Equality Ombudsman for more effective access to justice and active measures 

Conclusions and recommendations

Putting SE in a global perspective, its integration policies tend to be more responsive and evidence-based, more ambitious, better supported and more effective in many areas of life. The needs of non-EU newcomers in SE are similar to those in other Northern European countries. Ranked 1st out of 38, SE’s policies aim to respond to these needs by strictly scrutinising any obstacles in laws or in policies, offering targeted solutions to specific needs and getting mainstream services to better serve a diverse public. Newcomers and all residents of disadvantaged areas should be able to use their rights and invest in their skills in order to take up equal opportunities in all areas of life. Policymakers are constantly looking for quicker and more cost effective solutions and include more hard-to-reach groups. Similar top-scoring MIPEX countries aim just as high (e.g. FI, NO, CA, NZ). These high expectations are also shared by the public and a general political consensus in SE and the other top-scoring countries, where overwhelming majorities think that immigrants should benefit from the same rights as citizens. 

SE's comparative high bar for success is both a key factor improving integration and a source of frustration for the SE public, who have come to expect such high standards of living, equality, education and active citizenship. Newcomers have yet to benefit from these high standards and their lives do improve over time in SE, but larger gaps may be expected between immigrants and the native-born in SE than in less developed or equitable societies. Certain inequalities persist over time and require greater attention, especially for women, early school leavers and disadvantaged areas with many newcomers. SE should not forget that integration policies are just one – and sometimes not the major – factor influencing the integration process. 

Still, compared to other European countries, SE’s ambitious policies seem to be more effective than other countries at reaching most immigrant residents in need. Immigrants and their children are more likely to invest in their skills than elsewhere in Europe. Nearly all non-EU immigrants are guaranteed in law and in practice the same rights as SE citizens in economic, social, family and democratic life. Residents in SE are most likely to reunite together and become permanent residents, voters and citizens. More people in SE are informed of their rights as potential victims of discrimination and using these rights to take the 1st steps to access justice. 

The challenge for SE and other top-scoring countries is to expand access to the most effective programmes for all newcomers and disadvantaged residents. Like SE, the top-scoring countries are also among the very few with integration policies based more on evidence than on politics, thanks to the use of pilots, experiments and impact evaluations to test and improve policies. In recent years, SE has also been targeting its investments in policies and programmes proving themselves in evaluations to be effective for boosting integration outcomes. So far, mainstream politics and society has maintained its consensus and commitment to constantly improve integration in practice. 

Policy Recommendations from the Swedish Red Cross

  • Ensure access to health care for all migrants nationwide, including specialized treatment for persons suffering from trauma linked to conflict, torture and harsh migration routes. This requires a better coordination between regional health authorities and other actors
  • Expand access and create more effective integration programs for vulnerable groups. The programs needs to be better adapted to individual needs, linked to level of education, health and social situation
  • Expand access to procedures to recognize skills and foreign qualifications, Swedish language courses and work placements, including asylum seekers 
  • Support local communities and civil society organizations working with integration activities locally and enable local adaptations of national programs
  • Safeguard the right to family reunification. Ensure prompt and effective application procedures including access to information, legal aid and introduction programs for reunited family members. Special attention must be given to the families of unaccompanied minors
  • Uphold the policy of granting permanent residence permits as a rule to ensure equal rights and a secure and efficient integration-process






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Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Newcomers enjoy equal legal access and rights to labour market, general support and the social safety net; SE is increasingly targeting its support to expand access to programmes proven most effective through evaluations; non-EU citizens are more likely to access education and training in SE than in most countries, especially since the 2009 Introduction Act

Potential Beneficiaries

How many immigrants could be employed?

Fewer working-age non-EU citizens are outside of employment, education and training in SE compared to most European countries, using 2011/2 data. Only 1/4 was not in employment, education or training in SE, NO, DK, UK, which represent the lowest rates in Western Europe. These low levels are partly explained by the greater access to adult training in Nordic countries compared to the rest of Europe. In contrast, 1/3 of working-age non-EU citizens is not in employment, education or training in the average European country, with even higher levels in BE and FR. The patterns for men/women and high/low educated are similar across Europe, including SE. These levels are higher among low-educated women (around 1/3 in SE) and lower among men, especially the university-educated (just 13.5%).

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

With the top-score, SE is working to better implement this mainstreaming approach. 2009's Introduction Act aims to improve the country’s specific labour market model and the situations of different types of newcomers within it. SE is now working to better implement this mainstreaming approach. All workers are treated equally and use targeted support to address their individual needs and eventually access mainstream training opportunities. SE is increasingly investing its ambitious targeted support into the employment programmes proven most effective in national and international impact evaluations (ranked 1st on targeted support, similar to DK, NO, NZ, most recently DE).

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Nearly all non-EU newcomers enjoy favourable legal access to the labour market in SE, ranked 5th alongside FI, NL, IT/PT/ES, CA/US 
  • Temporary migrant workers can quickly change jobs and sectors
  • For the rest, SE labour market regulations do not create any formal distinctions between SE and EU/non-EU citizens
  • From day one in the country, they can start applying for any job in the private or public sector

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Legal residents can invest in their education and skills with equal access to general support in SE, ranked 1st just ahead of BE and NO
  • As in most countries, immigrants can equally access public employment offices, higher education and vocational training
  • Study grants are quickly available for anyone working, including childcare within the family (see also NO)
  • Foreign-trained or experienced non-EU immigrants should be oriented through the Introduction Plan to the National Agency for Higher Education that coordinates the free and short procedure to recognise their qualifications and skills (see also procedures in DE, DK, NL, UK)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Newcomers are informed of their labour rights through introduction programmes, unions, NGO partnerships and several multilingual websites, as is increasingly common in Western Europe and traditional destinations
  • 2009 Labour Market Introduction Act aims to make it quicker for newcomers to learn Swedish, find or create a job matching their skills (‘individual responsibility with professional support’)
  • SE Public Employment Service is now responsible for assessing newcomers’ skills, informing them of available general and targeted support, agreeing on an individualised introduction plan and overseeing their individual right, wherever they live, to introduction benefits to finance these measures (this approach later followed by FI)
  • Immigrant jobseekers can increasingly access job-related or -based language and vocational training and subsidised work-placement programmes (e.g. 'Step-in Jobs', 'New Start Jobs', apprenticeships, 'Applied Basic Year', see similar programmes in Nordics, DE, AU/CA/NZ)
  • New ‘introduction guide’ was recently scrapped due to poor performance (see other models for employment mentors/coaches in Nordics, AT, BE, DE, PT)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • The 2008 Immigration Law reinforces that all workers have equal economic and social rights in order to fight exploitation and unfair competition, similar to 13 other countries (CA and most in Northern Europe)

Real beneficiaries

Are immigrants acquiring new skills?

Working-age non-EU citizens are more likely to access adult education and training than in all other European countries (43%, far ahead of the 1/3 in other Nordics, NL, UK). Access to education and training was not only higher in SE and these countries, but also more equitable for men/women and for high/low-educated. For example, in SE, uptake of training among low and high-educated women stood at 46-47% compared to 40% for men. On average in Europe, only 17% of working-age non-EU citizens were recently enrolled in education or training, according to EU-wide estimates from 2011/2. The uptake of education and training seems to be higher among non-EU men and women, including the low-educated, in countries facilitating labour market mobility; and more equitable for men/women and high/low-educated in NL and Nordics (up to 42% in SE). Interestingly, more non-EU citizens have been accessing education and training since 2009/10 coinciding with the Introduction Act. The numbers have increased by 10 percentage points in SE and risen far above the levels for non-EU citizens in other Northern European countries or for SE/EU citizens in SE.

In contrast, most unemployed non-EU citizens must find a new job without the support of unemployment benefits in SE as in the average EU country. According to 2011/2 rough estimates from a selection of EU countries, only around 1/3 of non-EU citizen men and women who were unemployed last year received any unemployment benefit. Very rough estimates indicate that the numbers were slightly lower for non-EU citizen women than men. Access to unemployment benefits was slightly higher in NO and much higher in AT, CH, FI, BE and FR. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants find skilled and well-paid jobs?

  • ≥2% average GDP growth in recent years and 3rd highest employment rates in OECD (around 80%, just below IS and CH, slightly ahead of other Nordics) and
  • Relatively flexible employment protection legislation in SE and other Nordics English-speaking countries, Nordics, HU, JP, NL, CH & most rigid in TU, BE/FR/LU, EE, NO, Southern Europe (GR/IT/SI/ES/PT) 
  • Few recent migrants coming with temporary work or study permits
  • Minority of non-EU-born immigrants obtain a formal educational degree in SE
  • Meaningful exposure to SE language not possible before migration

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants employed in qualified and well-paid jobs?

Non-EU immigrants' employment rates and quality begins to converge over time, compared to SE-born people of the same education level and gender. After 10+ years in SE, the majority of non-EU immigrants are working, both low-educated (57%) and high-educated (72%), according to 2011/2 EU Labour Force Survey Data. These high-educated men and women are just 10% less likely to be employed than high-educated SE, similar to the EU average, and much less likely than high-educated immigrants in most other European countries. These low-educated in SE are more likely to be employed than low-educated immigrants in most other European countries, though 25% less likely than the low-educated SE-born, especially women. The major long-term challenge in SE and across Europe is employment quality, as working women and especially men are over 2 times as likely as SE-born workers to be either overqualified for their job if high-educated or experiencing in-work poverty if low-educated.

More – but not necessarily better – jobs tend to go to immigrants in countries like SE, with flexible & growing labour markets and greater investments in active labour market programmes. Long-settled non-EU immigrants seem to do remarkably well in SE, given that few come for work or study or obtain a formal degree in SE. Immigrants' labour market integration is not simply explained by the general policy/context and their individual skills. International reviews finds that employment outcomes are better for immigrants who get legal access to the labour market, a formal recognition of their foreign degree, a new domestic degree and/or domestic work experience. However often immigrants are under-represented in the most effective programmes and targeted policies are too new, small-scale or general to affect outcomes at the national level.

Evidence base

What do we learn from robust studies?

Pilots, experiments and robust causal impact evaluations have been used throughout the 2000's to isolate the specific employment effects of participation in various active labour market programmes for immigrants, both targeted and general (for overview, see Bilgili 2015 for Sweden see Emilsson 2014). Significant positive effects have been identified for subsidised work placements (Svantesson and Aranki 2006, Aslund and Johansson 2011, Forslund et al. 2013), intensive job coaching for immigrants (Joona and Nekby 2012), job-based language/vocational training (Delander et al. 2005), no major effects for bonuses for rapid language learning (Aslund and Engdahl 2012) and negative effects for paid parental leave (Vikman 2013).

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Non-EU families in need face fewer bureaucratic obstacles to reunite in SE than in other European countries; These days, SE's 'family friendly' immigration policies are not only starting points for more rapid integration for families making SE their home, but also important means for international protection and the best interests of the child

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

In general, SE secures family life for newcomers to quickly become part of society, as in CA, BE, IT/PT/ES. Family reunion rules reflect SE society's inclusive definition of the family and basic requirements expected and needed for all families living in the country. Reuniting families enjoy equal and secure rights as a starting point for integration and gender equality. Facilitating rapid family reunion, especially for families with children, definitely helps children achieve their best and stay in school and may help spouses to catch up with their sponsor in learning the language and getting a new degree or career. SE's increasingly work-focused introduction programmes are trying to better identify, inform and orient non-labour migrants who are skilled or ready to work, similar to trends in other major countries of family immigration (Northern Europe, traditional destination countries). 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Newcomers with 1-year-permits and permanent residence can be reunited in SE with their spouse or civil/long-term partner (as in 16 other countries) and other dependents (see also CZ, PT, SI)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Sponsors with temporary permits must fulfil the conditions to reunite with their family that are only slightly higher than the minimums required of all SE families (similar to KR, PT, AU/CA/NZ/US)
  • They must pay basic fees per family member, with lower fees for permanent residents and exemptions for refugees
  • Law 2009/10:77's new housing and income requirements foresaw the need for clear legal exemptions for vulnerable groups, long separated families and the best interest of the child; now the EU and other countries (most recently KR, DE) are going back in that direction 
  • Instead, SE invests in obligatory free language and introduction programmes, proven more effective for integration outcomes

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Separated families experience procedures in SE that are likely to be less discretionary than in 28 of the 37 other MIPEX countries
  • Applicants can be relatively secure about their family's future in SE and expect, but not guaranteed, a clear and short procedure
  • As in other countries, cases still emerge of lengthy procedures and waiting times and complicated documentation, especially from states in conflict (e.g. SY) 
  • As in most countries subject to EU law, authorities can reject applicants and withdraw permits on a few potentially discretionary grounds, but must weigh the family's personal circumstances in their favour
  • Reuniting families are guaranteed permits as secure as their sponsor's as in 18 other countries

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Reuniting spouses and adult children are guaranteed near-equal and independent rights in order to combat dependency
  • Adult family members have the same opportunities to participate in society through an immediate right to work, education, training, housing and social programmes, as in the majority of countries
  • Families can secure their status and rights as permanent residents after 2 years (see similar periods in AU/CA/NZ, BE, NO)
  • Some vulnerable families can benefit from residence protections, for example in cases of domestic violence or abuse or for other strong reasons or connections to SE

Policy Box

Law 2009/10:77 required non-EU sponsors to first obtain economic self-sufficiency and reasonable housing for the family – a change in SE's score and a change in direction – but not a significant one. The government (as in BE and PT) promised not to implement conditions (as in DK, FR, NO, now BE and UK) that would lower family reunions and raise legal challenges (see recent cases against DE, NL, UK). Consulted humanitarian actors feared negative impacts on family wellbeing. Government responded that SE was the ‘only’ EU country preserving its more favourable conditions under EU law. Still, they promised to remain the best at taking into account the rights of children and international protection. These groups and permanent residents are exempt. 

Real beneficiaries

Are families reuniting?

42,056 non-EU family members reunited with their non-EU sponsor in 2013, with similar numbers in 2012. This represents a 25% increase compared to previous years (around 35,000 annually). Half of this increase was due to SO, whose post-1991 passports are not accepted by SE. A 2012 court decision made it easier for reuniting families to prove their identity through optional DNA tests for children and their parent(s). Numbers also slightly increased for refugee families (AF, ER, SY, stateless). In particular, this increase was due to new opportunities for children to reunite with their parent in SE, thanks to this case. The number of reuniting children increased by around 40% from 2011 to 2012/3 (from 10,000 in 2009 to 20,000 in 2013). This change suggests that families can benefit significantly from removing practical obstacles in the procedure. Besides this increase, the numbers have not changed for spouses/partners reuniting (around 20,000-25,000). Numbers slightly dropped from 2009 to 2010 (mostly for SO and IQ families). Another recent decrease was the number of 'other' family members, from just 200-300 in 2008-10 to around 65 in 2012/3. Today, very few any non-EU elderly citizens (65+) reunite with family in SE (also low in AT, BE, DK, CH).

Reuniting families are the largest group of newcomers though not the majority (42% in 2013). But rarely do the majority in a given country come from the same origin country or region. Due to the earlier restrictions, SO families are now reuniting and the largest group (20% of new family members in 2013). The other major nationalities represent refugee families (SY 7%, IQ 6%, Stateless 4%, AF 4%) as well as citizens of IN, TH, CN. 

Following the new ruling, children who cannot prove their identity with a valid passport can still receive a residence permit if they are moving to a parent in Sweden. This applies if it can be proven through a DNA analysis that the child and the parent are related. This also applies for a parent accompanying their child to Sweden or a parent who wants to move to their child if the child already lives in Sweden.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants reunite with family?

  • Many newcomers recently settling down with family in SE and other Nordics 
  • Sizeable share of humanitarian migrants likely to stay and need family reunion in SE and other Nordics
  • Nearly all with the eligible or permanent permits to sponsor
  • 2/3 from low-to-medium developed countries and thus more likely to reunite 

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants reunite with family?

Non-EU residents separated from their families are more able to reunite in SE than elsewhere in Europe. According to available Eurostat data from 2009-2013, non-EU residents in SE, especially from refugee-producing countries, are more likely to reunite with spouses and children under SE's inclusive policy than residents in all other European countries. Generally in the EU, non-EU family reunion is relatively rare. Out of every 100 non-EU residents in the average EU country, only 2.2 are newly arrived non-EU family members. With very few exceptions, non-EU families have been more likely to reunite in countries with inclusive family reunion policies, such as SE, other Nordics, Benelux and Southern European countries. While a family's choice to reunite is also driven by other individual and contextual factors, making policies more restrictive, selective or discretionary can significantly delay or deter both family's reunion and their integration in the country. Policies can quickly function as obstacles to the right to family reunion, with disproportionate effects on the most vulnerable groups.


Key Findings

SE education system is one of the most responsive to the new needs and opportunities brought by its sizeable group of 1st and 2nd generation pupils speaking other languages at home

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

In SE, 1st/2nd generation pupils make up a large minority of pupils comparable to other major destinations in Europe, such as AT, FR, DE, according to estimates of 15-year-olds from the 2012 PISA test. Around 6% were foreign-born (i.e. 1st generation), while 9% were 2nd generation born in SE to immigrant parents. Only around 1/3 live in households speaking SE at home, a relatively low level comparable to countries such as AT and NO.

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

SE's slightly favourable policies encourage more students to do their best in a diverse school and society. This comprehensive approach compares favourably to the 38 generally weak countries, with SE ranking 1st similar to AU/CA/NZ, NO. In SE, each pupil in the system is legally entitled to general and targeted support that addresses their individual needs and new opportunities. Immigrant pupils, regardless of status, can benefit from rights and measures to guarantee equal access in pre-primary, compulsory and vocational education, to target their specific learning needs, to learn their mother tongue and culture and to appreciate cultural diversity. Still, much about how migrant pupils and parents are included in school life is discretionary for municipalities and uneven across the country. Some may benefit from multicultural pre-schools, teacher diversity campaigns and National Board of Education projects. Immigrant pupils, regardless of status, can benefit from rights and measures to guarantee equal access in pre-primary, compulsory and vocational education, to target their specific learning needs, to learn their mother tongue and culture and to appreciate cultural diversity. 

Dimension 1: Access

  • Like most countries, SE has only gone halfway to guarantee equal access for immigrant pupils to all school levels (similar to AU, NZ, FR, FI)
  • Children arriving with undocumented parents can pursue their education up through secondary level under the Education Act (+4 on education since 2013)
  • Newcomers in FR and LU go to specialised institutions to assess what they learned abroad and place them at the right level (see also models in FR and LU)
  • After compulsory education, immigrant pupils may benefit from ad hoc measures to facilitate apprenticeships or access to higher education

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • Schools and municipalities have the responsibility to inform and orient newcomers, guarantee them high-quality SE-as-a-2nd language (SSL) and provide extra support to help them catch up academically with their peers in SE, ranking 1st alongside strong policies in the other Nordics and traditional destination countries
  • Schools must properly communicate with parents, including through the right to interpreters for special welcome meetings for newcomers and key parent-teacher meetings (see also use of intercultural mediators e.g. LU, PT)
  • Pre-schools, compulsory and upper secondary schools must offer all pupils individualised support based on their needs, including SSL up to the same level of academic fluency as for SE-speaking pupils (see high-standard curriculum in 11 others)
  • Schools are compensated for extra costs related to bilingual pupils (e.g. 128m SEK extra to improve school results for bilingual pupils 2014-6)
  • Trainings on immigrant pupils' specific needs are extensively available but optional

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • SE, like AU and CA, is one of the few countries strongly encouraging schools to seize the new opportunities and skills that immigrant pupils bring to the classroom for greater learning and social integration
  • Flexible model for right to choose mother-tongue language courses, depending on available teacher, small minimum number of pupils and method of organisation (similarly flexible models in Nordics, AU/CA, AT/CH)
  • Coursework on immigrant cultures also teaches intercultural competences about the realities in SE today
  • Ad hoc programmes for mixed schools by raising school quality in segregated areas; Several initiatives to increase parental involvement in school governance
  • Initial options for foreign-trained teachers to teach in SE following 'top-up courses' (see a few promising initiatives in other Nordics, AU/CA/NZ, DE/CH)

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • Schools receive guidance, materials and support to make intercultural education a reality in SE schools (see also NL, UK)
  • National Education Agency provides this support for 'equal respect and tolerance' in the curriculum 
  • Ultimately every school can decide how to adapt the school day, textbooks and materials  

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

Extracurricular literacy courses are more often available in SE (and FI, DK) than elsewhere for all low-literacy 15-year-olds, whether 1st/2nd generation or non-immigrant pupils. In SE, the numbers of low-literacy pupils attending extra literacy courses rose to 3/4 of foreign-pupils, 2/3 of the 2nd generation and nearly 1/2 of non-immigrant pupils. Low-literacy immigrant pupils are more likely to benefit from extra out-of-school literacy courses in countries where these courses are generally available for all pupils and where their targeted education policies are strong for migrants. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • >50% of immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools in SE as in most Western European countries
  • Only around 1/3 of 1st/2nd generation speak SE at home 
  • ≈25% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 in BE, FR, HU, SK, SI, English-speaking countries (except US)
  • % of GDP spent on education highest in Northwest Europe
  • Student-teacher ratios relatively low in Nordics

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

The 2012 PISA study suggests that most low-literacy pupils in SE are not only accessing some sort of targeted support, but also making greater progress from one generation to the next than in most other Nordic and continental countries. A sizeable group (36%) of SE non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers end up as math low-achievers. That level of low achievement is nearly 2 times as high for foreign-born pupils with low-educated mothers (2/3). Few differences in basic math proficiency emerge when comparing pupils with low-educated mothers who are immigrants vs. SE-born. By this 2nd generation, the number of low-achievers is the same as for non-immigrants or fewer in EN-speaking countries, with SE and FR coming close to parity (42% in SE).

No systematic link emerges between targeted education policies and outcomes. The reasons why are hard to know for certain, since experimentation and robust evaluations are usually missing in policymaking on migrant education. Targeted education policies may be too new, too weak, too late or too general for most migrant pupils to benefit from them all across the country and education system. Their school may not have the knowledge, resources or will to implement these policies. Moreover, the general quality and structure of the education system probably have a greater impact on the outcomes of migrant and other disadvantaged pupils.


Key Findings

Health services and policies are starting to catch up with others to respond to migrants' specific needs and SE is now a leader on equal healthcare entitlements, though potential concerns about discretion and accessibility 

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Nearly all migrant patients are included and informed within the health system. But the SE health system has not yet guaranteed equal quality treatment for the diversity of migrant patients. SE's migrant health policies rank 9th alongside other Nordic countries, IE, NL, and major regions in CH, IT, AT. These countries' health services and policies are starting to become more responsive to migrants' specific health needs and catch up with the standards for intercultural competence set in EN-speaking countries. 

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • SE, FR, NL and CH go the furthest to guarantee equal healthcare entitlements for all residents, taking a health and integration perspective
  • Healthcare entitlements are virtually the same for SE citizens and legal migrants
  • Undocumented migrants benefit since 2013 from the same right as asylum-seekers to essential care 'that cannot be postponed'
  • This criteria is vague and discretionary, creating uncertainty for patients and ethical dilemmas for medical staff who are supposed to provide care based on needs and not legal status; these are problems created by conditional entitlements in most countries
  • This discretion may be limited if staff follow last summer's guidelines published by the SE Medical Association and 22 other healthcare unions

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Migrant patients and staff may encounter a few knowledge and service gaps when trying to understand and follow up these entitlements in SE, similar to the average Western European country 
  • Staff can be properly informed about the regional implementation of entitlements for asylum-seekers
  • As in most countries, migrants in SE are informed about health issues and care through materials, websites and personnel channels sometimes in dozens of languages, through with some regional variation
  • In contrast, staff and undocumented migrants are not yet fully informed about the regional implementation of the 2013 law, a problem now subject to a government inquiry
  • In practice, undocumented migrant patients can turn to the health system for care without substantiated fears of being reported
  • Health communicators are also not generally available for migrant patients (see initiatives in 18 other countries)

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Health services have so far only gone halfway to develop their capacity to fully address migrant patients' specific access/health needs in SE, ranked 7th, alongside other Western European leaders catching up on intercultural competence (see standards in AU, CZ, UK, US)
  • Patients and services can use free interpretation to overcome communication difficulties, often face-to-face, telephone or competent staff (see also 13 other countries)
  • Health services, like other employers, are expected to set and follow their own 'diversity plans' to achieve equal rights and opportunities in hiring and working life
  • Services can choose to use recently developed standards, trainings and adapted diagnostic and treatment methods where appropriate
  • Just a few regional initiatives involve migrants (mostly newcomer refugees) in designing and delivering information (see also practices in 20 other countries)  

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Ranked 12th, SE's health policies are also starting to catch up on supporting these changes (see more comprehensive policies in AU/NZ/UK/US and efforts in IE and NO)
  • Policies can improve based on a wealth of data and research, as migrant health is an increasing research priority in Western Europe
  • So far health policy has made a general commitment to mainstreaming and diversity
  • This commitment can be followed up with an explicit action plan and support for migrant health, including measures to address the impact of migrant health in other policy areas

Political Participation

Key Findings

SE ranks as one of the most inclusive developed democracies at both local and national level and long-settled non-EU immigrants are more likely to participate politically there than in most other European countries

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Relatively few non-EU adults do not meet the basic residence requirement for local voting rights (<20% according to 2011/2 estimates). This is similar in other inclusive Nordic democracies.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Ranking 7th, SE opens a few slightly favourable political opportunities for residents to participate in general politics. SE once scored higher like its Nordic peers because it supported official immigrant consultative bodies. Today, authorities generally consult with civil society when they change policies. Besides this one weakness, immigrants can benefit from information, support and rights to participate in local/regional elections and civil society. All can vote in local/regional elections and can form or join associations, media and political parties. Newcomers are better able to use their rights because policies are implemented to inform them and include their associations in civic life, as in several Western European countries. 

7th (Nordics, IE, PT, NZ): SE has a weak approach to including immigrants in national and local dialogue structures through ad hoc consultations. Most non-EU citizens are eligible to vote and many newcomers do before quickly becoming SE citizens, likely responsible for SE's high levels of immigrant political participation (like IE, NO) based on European Social Survey data from the 2000's.

Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • Non-EU citizens after 3 years' legal stay can stand as local candidates, as in 14 countries, vote locally in 21 and regionally in 9
  • Overall IE and the Nordics granting the most inclusive voting rights in Europe, while nationally NZ ranks as the most inclusive developed democracy in the world

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • Non-EU citizens in SE are guaranteed the same basic political liberties as citizens, similar to foreign citizens in traditional countries of immigration, all Western European countries and JP

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Unlike in 24 other countries, SE does not provide immigrant associations with an official structure for dialogue with not only state authorities or politicians
  • Instead, the government funds Cooperation Group for Ethnical Associations in Sweden (SIOS) and other immigrant organisations 
  • NGOs, municipalities and authorities have signed partnership agreements at local level in major cities allow national authorities to better dialogue with NGOs and municipalities about their work in disadvantaged urban areas
  • Consultative bodies can quickly come and go, based solely on whether or not the government is willing to listen to them (e.g. recent closure of strong bodies in NO and NL)
  • Though countries and cities are constantly experimenting with more democratic and participatory methods (e.g. most recently BE, DK, IE, NL, NZ, UK, US and several projects in Central Europe)

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Immigrants can get funding for their civic activities in SE as in 26 other MIPEX countries
  • They are also regularly informed of opportunities to participate politically in SE, as across Northwest Europe, CA, NZ

Real beneficiaries

How many non-EU immigrants are eligible to vote?

SE ranks as one of the most inclusive Nordic democracy at both local and national level and perhaps 2nd in developed world behind NZ. The inclusive Nordic model of local democracy means that most non-naturalised citizens are eligible to vote in local elections in SE (also Nordics, IE, NL, with NZ the most inclusive). According to national data, around 1/3 of non-EU citizens (108,000) were registered to vote in 2009. More importantly, non-EU citizens most interested and active in politics are likely to quickly naturalise as SE citizens. Nearly 3/4 of non-EU immigrant adults have naturalised as SE citizens, comparable to NL, AU, CA and NZ. 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become politically active?

  • Only 1/3 of non-EU citizens are university-educated in IE, UK, LU, BG, PL, EE
  • 2/3 from low-to-medium developed countries
  • Generally high levels of civic engagement in SE and other Nordics
  • Most long-settled in SE and thus more likely to participate
  • Sizeable number of humanitarian migrants in Nordics more likely to become civically active over long-term

Outcome indicators

Are immigrants participating in political life?

Around half of long-settled non-EU-born adults are participating politically in some way, levels much higher than in most European countries (like IE and NO). In the 2000's, 52% of long-settled residents (10+ years' stay) reported recently taking part in a political party, association, petition, demonstration or contacting a politician. In comparison, political participation rates were lower in DK, FR, LU (around 40%) and much lower in AT and DE (below 30%). Despite these high levels for Europe, participation rates for SE-born were higher (62%). That means the long-settled non-EU-born were 17% less likely to become civically active than the SE-born, although political participation rates were 1/4 lower among the low-educated.

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

Becoming permanent residents is a normal part of the integration process in SE

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become long-term residents?

Around 1/2 of the non-EU citizens in SE (and NO) are long-settled there, with 5+ years' residence, according to 2011/2 estimates. These numbers are similar for men and women.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Ranked 2nd after BE, SE provides equal status to nearly all settled legal residents for as long as they live in the country. They fulfil conditions that are average for Europe, but more coherent with the different reasons people settle in the country. The security and equal rights of permanent residence cannot be taken for granted in SE. With this status, they can better invest in their integration with a secure future in SE and equal opportunities to participate in all areas of social and economic life. Similarly across Europe, becoming permanent residents gives newcomers better chances to participate in society, partly due to EU law. These standards were recently used in other high-scoring countries (e.g. BE, PT, ES) to create national statuses as secure as SE's. In contrast, restrictive countries have turned permanent residence from the rule into the exception, creating greater precariousness on the job and housing market and unnecessary and costly bureaucracy for renewals (see rationale for reform in DK and proposals in FR).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility rules are slightly more inclusive than on average in SE, as in other countries with flexible paths to national permanent residence (e.g. Nordics, AU/CA/NZ, BE, Baltics)
  • Temporary residents who can prove they came to Sweden to work, pay a basic fee after 4 years’ residence
  • Others have already proven personal attachments to Sweden, with families eligible after 2 years and refugees immediately
  • Rules are similar in SE as across the EU for ineligible short-term permits and long periods of absence

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • The requirements to become permanent residents are only slightly higher than the minimums required of SE citizens, with differences reflecting applicants' reasons to immigrate and effective links with SE (ranked 3rd, alongside BE, FI, ES)
  • Applicants pay a basic fee and may need to prove their basic legal income and housing

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • As for family reunion, applicants for permanent residence can expect less discretionary procedures than in 33 of the 37 other MIPEX countries
  • Authorities promise but do not guarantee that the procedure will be clear and short 
  • As in most countries subject to EU law, authorities can reject applicants and withdraw permits on a few potentially discretionary grounds, but must weigh the family's personal circumstances in their favour
  • Applicants obtain a permanent secure status for their entire life in the country in SE as in 26 other countries
  • Greater protections against expulsion are also provided for permanent residence with strong effective links with SE 
  • Reuniting families are guaranteed permits as secure as their sponsor's as in 18 other countries (e.g. minors, SE-educated, long-settled residents), similar to other Northwest European countries

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Permanent residents can work, study and live in the country with the same social and economic rights as citizens do in SE and in 29 other MIPEX countries

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are long-term residents?

SE was home to around 250,000 non-EU citizens with permanent residence, according to national statistics. Among these, a very small number are EU long-term residents with the right to live and work in other EU Member States, based on the data reported to Eurostat. These numbers are comparable to other medium-sized countries of immigration, such as AT and GR and far below Europe's largest destinations (DE, IT, FR, ES, UK). 

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether immigrants become long-term residents?

  • Most residents with eligible permits
  • Around half are newcomers with <5 years' residence in CY, NO, SE (also high in JP, KR, TU)
  • Mostly humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle in US and Northwest Europe
  • Only option to secure residence for long-settled residents and 2nd generation in countries with restrictive naturalisation policies (e.g. Baltics, Central Europe, AT, IT, ES, CH)

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become long-term residents?

Becoming permanent residents is a normal part of the integration process for non-EU citizens likely to spend the rest of their lives in SE. After 5+ years in the country, non-EU citizens become permanent residents with a secure future and near-equal rights in SE. 

 The number of permanent residents strongly reflects countries' path to permanent residence and citizenship. Immigrants are more likely to become permanent residents under inclusive residence policies, but also more likely to move on and become citizens with a clear path to citizenship. Unlike SE, countries that restrict citizenship end up with very high numbers of permanent resident foreigners living as 'second-citizens' (e.g. FR, DE), while those restricting permanent residence end up with large numbers of 'permanently temporary' residents at risk of irregularity, labour market segmentation and social exclusion (e.g. AT, CY, DK, GR).

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

SE's clear path to citizenship guarantees shared citizenship and boosts other integration outcomes

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

Around half of the non-EU citizens in SE have lived there at least five years, long enough to apply for citizenship (non-EU citizens are mostly newcomers, while most long-settled residents quickly become citizens). Small numbers also exist of 2nd generation born in SE but living without its citizenship.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Since 2001, SE has a clear and uncontroversial path to citizenship, following several international trends and inspiring others (e.g. FI, DK). Permanent residents are legally entitled after 5 years (13) to a secure citizenship and dual nationality (25). Access to nationality encourages immigrants and the public to invest in integration and treat each other as equals. Following a government inquiry (see box), citizenship ceremonies will be expanded from half to all municipalities. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • To be eligible, immigrants must have permanent residence and lived there for 5 years (4 for refugees/stateless, 3 years for partners of citizens or 2 for spouses)
  • These are common eligibility standards in MIPEX countries
  • Their children have their own right to citizenship after 3 years' residence, but only if the parents notify the authorities
  • Adding citizenship at birth – a simpler and clearer entitlement – creates legal equality after one or two generations (e.g. AU, BE, CA, DE, LU, NZ, PT, US)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Immigrants become SE citizens once they fulfil the same good character requirements as SE citizens do
  • They have to pay a standard fee (160€) and have a clean record with the Police and the Enforcement Authority, meaning they have paid their taxes, fines and other charges or debts
  • MIPEX finds that any proposed language 'bonus' will likely be much less effective if it expects everyone to attain the same minimum level than to show their effort to learn SE
  • For example, free course-based routes are provided in AU, NO and previously UK, with exemptions for the domestically-educated, minors, elderly and disabled/ill

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • As in other Northern European countries, immigrants in Sweden who meet the legal requirements are entitled to become SE
  • The Migration Board keeps the procedure objective and short
  • New citizens are as secure as SE-born citizens (see also CZ, FI, IT, PL)

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

SE fully embraced dual nationality in 2001 and then followed by FI, LU, PL, CZ and, most recently, DK

Policy Box

The SE citizenship inquiry 2013:29 proposed annual local citizenship ceremonies, birthright citizenship for children with one or more permanent resident parents with 5+ years' legal stay, a quicker entitlement for children schooled in SE (notification) and a one-year language "bonus" for adults attaining Level D SE (CEFR B1, the highest level expected in Europe). Of these proposals, the 2014 amendment to the Citizenship Act took up the ceremonies and notification changes. Birthright citizenship and language bonuses are still being debated.

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

In 2012, 41,485 non-EU citizens became SE citizens. Over the past decade, the total number of naturalisations has remained around 30,000-35,000, with occasional peaks of 45,000-50,000, including from 2012-2014.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • 2/3 from less developed countries thus likely to naturalise
  • Mostly humanitarian or family migrants likely to settle
  • 2/3 from countries allowing dual nationality

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

Over an estimated 70% of non-EU-born adults have become SE citizens, according to 2011/2 data. These levels are relatively high for Europe and similar to traditional countries of immigration. Thanks to its stable policy, SE has maintained one of the highest naturalisation rates in the EU. In 2012, 11.2 non-EU citizen men and women naturalised for every 100 living in SE, with similarly high numbers registered in IE, MT, NL and PL. Compared to other European countries, these rates in SE are slightly higher for non-EU minors and lower for elderly over 65 as well as nationals from certain refugee-producing countries. SE's citizenship policies are the strongest factor determining the naturalisation outcomes for immigrant men and women from developing countries. Naturalisation also seems to lead to better employment outcomes and higher levels of political participation for certain naturalising immigrants.


Key Findings

Potential victims can learn about their rights and bring forward cases of racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination in all areas of life, with the help of a single strong equality body, active measures and relatively strong enforcement measures

Potential Beneficiaries

Who said they experienced racial/ethnic or religious discrimination last year?

According to the latest comparable data (2012), 2.5% of people in SE felt that last year they had been discriminated against or harassed based on their ethnic origin (1.4%) and/or religion/beliefs (1.2%). Discrimination exists in SE as across Europe, although this share of potential victims is relatively low (similar to DK) compared to most other European countries (4.5-7%).

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

SE provides better basic conditions for victims of discrimination to access justice. Like other leading countries (BE, CA, FR, UK, US), SE continues to make its equality legislation, bodies and duties easier to use. Its 2009 Anti-Discrimination Act replaced 7 laws with one and 4 equality bodies with one Equality Ombudsman (e.g. recently FR, IE, NL, UK). This single approach aims to work more effectively and comprehensively on all grounds in even more areas of society. In court, more NGOs can support victims and judges can award higher damages, both to compensate and to deter. Government also renewed its requirements for active measures.

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • Definitions of discrimination are slightly more extensive in SE than on average, with a few gaps
  • Wide range of actors cannot discriminate against a person on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, among others
  • Victims lack clear rules about how to handle cases of multiple discrimination (see 8 others, e.g. DE, UK, CA, US)

Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • Everyone is generally protected against ethnic, racial, religious and nationality discrimination in all areas of life in SE and 15 MIPEX countries across the globe

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • Potential victims can benefit from relatively strong mechanisms to enforce the law
  • Role of equality NGOs and trade unions, actio popularis, limited class actions and alternative dispute mechanisms). 
  • As in most countries, victims seeking justice benefit from sharing the burden of proof (31 MIPEX countries), protections against victimisation (31 countries) as well as financial aid and interpreters (28)
  • Situation testing and statistics in court have also been used (see also 12 other countries)
  • Equality NGOs could have stronger legal standing to intervene on behalf of victims (16) lead class actions or actio popularis (21, now also GR and FR)

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • Potential victims can learn about their rights and bring forward cases of racial, ethnic, religious and nationality discrimination in all areas of life, with the help of a single strong equality body and state active measures
  • Equality Ombudsman has favourable powers to help victims, with legal standing to engage in support or on their behalf and instigate its own investigations and proceedings
  • Since 2013, local anti-discrimination bureaus will receive permanent and greater report (from 10-to-12m SEK)
  • State authorities actively work to inform the public about discrimination and their rights (e.g. 61.5m SEK from 2014-7 to combat xenophobia and intolerance)
  • Active measures required of all private and public employers with 25+ employees, while 30 largest state agencies must include anti-discrimination clauses in public contracts  

Real beneficiaries

How many racial/ethnic and religious discrimination complaints were made to equality bodies?

The number of discrimination complaints to equality bodies is the one available indicator of how often people report discrimination in different countries, given that other types of discrimination cases are rarely recorded by the justice systems, including in SE. Throughout SE in 2013, notifications of 860 discrimination complaints were received on racial/ethnic origin grounds (752) and religious grounds (108).

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether potential victims report discrimination cases

  • Slight majority of general public know their rights as discrimination victims in SE, one of highest levels of public awareness in Europe
  • High levels of trust in police and justice system
  • Large numbers of non-EU citizens are newcomers and thus less likely to report a discrimination incident, but most non-EU-born are naturalised and thus more likely to report

Outcome indicators

How many complaints were made last year for every person who said they experienced racial/ethnic and religious discrimination?

Few complaints are made compared to the large number of people reportedly experiencing incidents of racial/ethnic or religious discrimination. Complaints seem to be more common in the countries with stronger, longstanding and well-resourced anti-discrimination laws and bodies; 1 complaint is received for approximately every 150-400 people experiencing ethnic or religious discrimination in BE, FR, NL, IE and SE. This is equivalent of just 0.4% of SE's potential racial, ethnic or religious discrimination victims who are making complaints to equality bodies. What is clear is that most countries need to do more to enforce and resource their anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee the same access to justice for potential discrimination victims as they do for victims of other crimes and illegal acts. The problem of non-reporting is starting to be tackled in SE and a few others (FR, NL, IE). Already, the public in SE (and FI) are the most informed of their rights as discrimination victims (61%) compared to others in Europe.