Immigration-Integration Dilemma: An Inconvenient Truth in Swedish Politics

Since the end of the Second World War WW-II Immigration-Integration politics have been of importance for Europe especially during the early stages of the internal collective focus on building up a strong European economy. During this period, the foreign labor felt appreciation from the employers and the state by being an important part of an ongoing collective movement that will allow them to build their individual economies and to improve their future as well. Most of the foreign labor during this period came from other parts of Europe with great excitement and motivation to improve their economies and social status. A small part of the foreign emigrant came for the sake of education with great motivation to improve their own Career-Development-Plans. Later on, for the sake of creating social European integrity and during the formation of the European Union 🇪🇺, it was where most of success, or failure, in the integration process took place. Meanwhile, as Europe started to become economically strong and focused on the internal issues to form the European Union, the demography of the foreign labor and emigrants changed and shifted dramatically as a consequence of attitude changes in the labor market in Europe. Much sharper competition on jobs with new reforms of the immigration policies oriented more and more meet the new condition in the labor market. Along the way of these periods, there have been great variations in how individual countries in Europe succeeded in integrating foreign workers in their labor, social and economic structures (

Generally speaking, successful integration requires workable policies on anti-discrimination, family reunification, equal access to education, political participation, permanent residence, and above all, labour market integration. Other essential issues that were, and still, rarely considered include inclusive social participation and interaction in cultural, tradition and folklore activities. The last mentioned ones are typical engagement in free time, weekends and vacations where most emigrants, in countries with less successful integration, feel very much isolated from the rest of the society. The language that most emigrants acquire (especially during the first years of residence) is, not seldom, limited to integrating them in the labor market, as is the case in Sweden during the past decades. Here the state or the employers have, because of budgetary restrictions, very little resources to offer in this respect. Putting language learning and linguistic developments in practical and real social communication situations are, also, very important and can even be of central importance. Humans have natural explicit needs to express and understand feelings and to support social thinking and problem-solving for developing and maintaining relationships. This is where understanding and using the language is imperative to enjoy the deep social, cultural and folkloric roots in any society. This is how to turn “workers” to “citizens”, no one would really appreciate or like to stay a worker, a machine or a robot all his/her life. These are simple facts in sociology and psychology. This is the very reason why most foreigners/emigrants feel outsiders in new cultures even after relatively long time of residence. This can end up in gradual transformation of early stage cultural chocks of individuals to permanent and collective social trauma. It is, also, the core reason of the social segregation that took place in some places with minority groups in Sweden, in particular Malmö, Göteborg, Stockholm and Uppsala. This represents also obstacles and difficulties to enjoy working by being an essential path for complete social integration (sometimes understood as assimilation) and not only a wheel in the machinery of production and economy.

This said, the only way of integrating immigrants is that officials should recast the short-term threats into long-term benefits. It is a political and economic minefield and though immigration could stop the population decline of many European countries, including Sweden, integrating foreign workers will be costly, politically and socially sensitive. However, simple economic facts and basic rules of entrepreneurship tell us as that no gains without investment and the outcome and gains are always related to the level of investments assuming that proper planning, careful, tight and continuous management actions are being applied (

Ideally, there should be no marked difference between the unemployment rate of foreign-born and native-born workers, nor in their wages. This is true only in the Czech Republic, and to a lesser extent in the U.K. and Ireland. However, the unemployment rate of foreign-born workers exceeds that of native-born workers in nearly all EU states, especially in Sweden, Spain and France. In 2014 and beyond, Sweden had the widest gap between native and immigrant joblessness rates among OECD countries. But Sweden’s generous social policy, originally designed to help immigrants integrate, is partly to blame for widening the gap. The gap between domestic and foreign workers’ wages in Sweden was the second highest in 2014 after Luxembourg and still. While, Cyprus, Germany, and to a lesser extent the U.K. and Finland successfully integrated foreign workers into their labour markets, Greece, Spain and Sweden struggled. Indeed, the lack of political action by all political parties and for very longtime have caused draining on public funds and worsening social tensions.

Another aspect that did not get enough attention by Swedish politicians is proper management of the inflow of migrants as decisions should be driven by the structural requirements and the underlying needs of the host economy and, labor conditions as well as the social fabrics. Unlike the U.K. and the industry-oriented Germany, Greece, France, or the Nordic countries are, however, struggling to integrate emigrants into their service-driven economies. European leaders are focused on migrant quotas, but the social and economic integration of those already present is urgent. No simple and common solution fits all countries “one-size-fits-all”, but job-finding assistance, language and social programs would help (

Following the political debates in Sweden during the past decades and the culmination of the political situation that resulted in the emergence of “extreme” right, the Sweden Democrats SD, as a major political party with 20% of the Swedish population (about two millions of people) is a simple reminder of what needs to be done. During the same period the Immigration-Integration policies were being, and still, debated by all parties but with insufficient actions and measures to deal with the core reasons of the pile-up of the impacts that caused the emergence of the “extreme” right. Whether or not there are direct or indirect reasons for such shift (; there remain urgent and serious needs for collective political actions and solutions. So far, all political parties including SD are in agreement for partial solutions, i.e. increase of the number of police, that will not necessarily result in the final solution the Immigration-Integration dilemma in Sweden. There are much more to be done. Flighting “fire” 🔥 by increasing the number of “firemen” 🚒 will not simply remove the core reason for the existence and expansion of “fire”. At least the Immigration-Integration issue should be appropriately and carefully assessed and detailed on the national level with active involvement of research councils. So far, research councils have passive involvement thus leaving the politicians and policy-makers to act more or less randomly without clear and validated data of the underlaying reasons. Another important aspect is how to effectively involve emigrants in finding the best practices for long-term and secure Immigration-Integration policies.

This said, globalization and the UN-SGD are calling for strong partnership that can be developed in sustainable manner when all Immigration-Integration policies consider win-win “employer-employees-citizenship” appreciation. These issues will remain to be central and imperative in national and global socio-economies, they are without hesitation the core of any future healthy and wealthy sustainable society.

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