Tomas Brandberg: The Swedish Demographic Experiment

| 17 september, 2018

According to a report from 2017, almost a third (30 percent) of the children in Swedish schools have other native tongues than Swedish. Language skills are, of course, not disadvantageous, but this situation reflects a very dramatic, ongoing change of the Swedish demography. An increasing share of the Swedish population consists of people born outside Europe.

Furthermore, ethnic segregation is increasing. Virtually every larger Swedish city has areas, where first and second generation immigrants tend to dominate. Also the labor market is becoming ethnified, in 2016 it was reported that foreign-born (about a fifth of the total population) represent more than half of all unemployed in the country. And the overrepresentation of immigrants in the unemployment rate stands out even more if you examine minorities from Africa and the Middle East.

In particular, the education system is becoming extremely segregated. Even if many parents pay lip service to generous migration laws, a majority if you consider how they vote, they bluntly refuse to have their own children in segregated schools.

And migration to Sweden has not ceased. Considering a total population of 10 million, Sweden last year granted permanent residency to 136 000 people, mainly as a result of asylum-related migration.

Until recently, it was frequently claimed by politicians – from left to right – that migration is economically favorable. By now almost everybody agree that the short-term costs are dramatic and put health care and education systems under pressure. Unfortunately, also the long-term costs are considerable. Since participation of the foreign-born population on the labor market is well below average, there is also a permanent cost.

The total migration bill for the Swedish economy is difficult to calculate, and the result would depend on a number of rather delicate assumptions and definitions. Realistic estimates would start from 2-3 percent of GDP, but the real price is probably much higher. Obviously, skilled and well-educated workers can benefit society; but asylum-related migration generally tends to be troublesome. It belongs to the picture that Sweden, at least period-wise, granted asylum to huge numbers of refugees who did not even prove their identity.

For certain, Sweden is an industrialized country with a relatively high standard of living. However, waiting times for health care are tellingly increasing and, according to Eurostat, more than 300 000 senior citizens live in poverty. The well-known Swedish welfare state is eroding.

From a historic point of view, the Swedish nation state has been exceptionally successful. At this moment, it is stepwise being replaced by something else, a culturally divided territory with increasing internal tensions in some areas. Unfortunately, this is not a good example for the rest of the world.

Tomas Brandberg (SD)

Political advisor