While less than 60,000 people (foreign and Swedish nationals) immigrated to Sweden in 2000, annual immigration levels have been above 100,000 since 2012. In 2014, almost 127,000 people moved to Sweden. Following this trend, the share of foreign-born residents among the total population has risen from around 11.3 percent in 2000 to roughly 16.5 percent in 2014.
Open Immigration Policy
Despite the fact that, since 2010, the xenophobic "Sweden Democrats" party (Sverigedemokraterna) has managed to strongly increase their presence in the political system, Sweden has so far maintained a relatively open immigration policy. In a factsheet about migration policy, the Swedish government confirmed in 2014 its ambition to maintain a "sustainable migration policy that safeguards the right to seek asylum and, within the framework of regulated immigration, facilitates mobility across borders, promotes demand-driven labor migration, harnesses and takes into account the effects of migration on development and deepens European and international cooperation." It also affirmed its conviction that immigration "helps to revitalize the Swedish society, the labor market and the economy as immigrants bring new knowledge and experience from their countries of origin."
As a result of a strongly increasing number of asylum seekers arriving in Sweden in recent years, and subsequent immigration of family members of those asylum seekers who are granted protection, Sweden faces some challenges. There is a shortage of affordable housing for newly arrived migrants, and it is also difficult for them to find jobs. Unemployment levels among immigrants from non-EU countries are high.
By comparison with the rest of Europe, Sweden takes in many refugees and actively encourages new labor migrants without prejudice to their qualifications. Recently, the Swedish Parliament introduced legislation aiming at encouraging circular migration, thus committing to facilitate inward and outward mobility.
The country profile first looks at Interner Link: historical developments of migration to and from Sweden, followed by an overview on Interner Link: recent immigration trends. It then focuses on Interner Link: immigration policy placing special emphasis on Interner Link: labor migration and approaches to circular migration. Said chapters lead up to (statistical) information on Sweden's current Interner Link: immigrant population and the question on how to Interner Link: integrate immigrants into mainstream society – an issue that is closely related to possibilities of Interner Link: citizenship acquisition. Following this, the country profile draws a closer look at both Interner Link: refugee migration to Sweden, including the country's asylum and refugee protection policies, and Interner Link: irregular migration. Finally, Interner Link: future challenges with regard to immigration are discussed.
Official languages: Swedish (and recognized minority languages Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani, Sami and Yiddish)
Area: 447,435 km2
Population (2015): 9,784,445
Population density (2014): 24 inhabitants per km2
Population growth (2014): 1,08%
Foreign-born population as percentage of total population (2014): 16.5%
Labour force participation rate (2014): 66.2% (15- to 74-years old)
Percentage of foreign born in the labour force (2014): 16.7% (15- to 74-years old)
Unemployment rate: 7.9% (2014), 8.0% (2013), 8.0% (2012), 7.8% (2011), 8.6% (2010)
Religions: 64.6% Lutheran Christians, 35.4% other or no religious affiliation
Source: Statistics Sweden, Eurostat (unemployment rate), Church of Sweden (religions).
This text is part of the Interner Link: country profile Sweden.