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Integration – a theme for social innovation and LSV

More and more people are immigrating to Sweden – Integration is key

On the 9th of November 2015, 2 160 people sought asylum during one day, which is a new record for Sweden. According to a prognosis made by The Swedish employment authority – Arbetsförmedlingen, 160 000 people will seek asylum in Sweden in 2015, compared to 81 300 in 2014. The 2015 prognosis is four times that of 2013 and eight times higher when compared to 2011 levels. The prognoses for 2016 is 135 000 people. During 2015, refugees from Syria have been the biggest group seeking asylum in Sweden. However, in November this year, the three largest groups represented Afghanistan (5 051 people), Syria (3 258 people) and Iraq (1 590 people).

Regardless of political viewpoint, Sweden is facing a substantial challenge both in the near and longer term. The Swedish society will need to welcome and provide homes and occupation to support the new arrivals in rebuilding their lives and contributing back to Sweden. This will demand engagement and collaboration between government, markets and civil society.

The new wave of Swedes represent a diversity of backgrounds

The people now seeking refuge in Sweden are unaccompanied minors, adult woman and men, as well as whole families. All of these people have different needs and capabilities.

According to a report authored by McKinsey in 2014, newly arrived are five times more likely to end up in social exclusion than people born in Sweden. [1] On average, it takes 7-10 years from the point of contact with the Swedish migration authority – Migrationsverket to when half of the newly arrived are established with occupation. It takes 3-7 years for the men, and even more, 9-11 years for women. [2] Moreover, 54% of the migrants that received permanent residence in 2004 have a monthly salary in 2015 of less than 13 000 SEK. [3] Sweden appears open and welcoming with regards to the formal right to work and enter the labour market upon arrival. However, large differences persist regarding unemployment rates when comparing natives and people born outside of Sweden. Lower occupation numbers are the rule along foreign born migrants, especially concerning women. This economic exclusion leads to increased social exclusion with in turn fuels segregation and increases the potential for social conflict.

An increasing number of people that arrive in Sweden have received post secondary education. According to the Swedish employment authority – Arbetsförmedlingen, the frequency of migrants with post secondary education has increased from one in five to one in three from 2013 to 2015. [4]

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According to a rapport made by the Swedish social services authority – Socialstyrelsen, about 20-30 % of those now migrating to Sweden suffer from poor mental health. [5] This does not only mean personal suffering for the individual but also poses a challenge to government, already struggling to provide accessible equitable mental health care.

Integration starts at welcome

Professionals working on receiving and integrating asylum migrants reiterate that a welcoming reception is key to set attitudes and exceptions of migrants. A poor reception easily breeds resentment and social segregation. But real Integration lies beyond reception and is based on several factors such as social and cultural integration, occupation, housing and learning the language.

Integration is a two-way challenge. Migrants will need to adapt to Swedish society and Swedish society will need to rise to the challenge of welcoming and including migrants. Government will not be able to make this process happen. It is up to Swedish people and employers how well this goes.

LSV develops opportunities on the theme of integration

With the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war Swedish government and society is facing one of its greatest challenges in modern time. The system will collapse and it will need to adapt. Swedish society will need to adapt. We will quickly need to find better, innovative solutions to meet demands for housing, occupation, health care and accelerated social integration. Government, civil society and the private markets will need to work together in new ways. LSV will bring together stakeholders from different parts of society in order to find and evaluate solutions that could enable integration to accelerate at a grand scale. Society is bigger than the state and its time we own up to our end of the bargain. The foundations for LSV’s work are based on the following questions:

  • Does the Swedish labor market need newly arrived?
  • Is Swedish a necessary mean to enter the labor market?
  • Does newly arrived need to develop their competences?
  • Who integrates unaccompanied minors?


Follow LSV’s journey in finding solutions to our most pressing societal problems, with the aim of creating a better Sweden.


[1] Ashoka, Social challenges in Scandinavia (2014)
[2] Riksrevisionen. Nyanländas etablering (2015)
[3] Örstadius, K. Tio år senare har varannan mindre än 13000kr i månaden (2015) Dagens Nyheter
[4] Okumus, E. Allt fler nyanlända utbildade i bristyrken (2015). Arbetet
[5] Socialstyrelsen. Psykisk ohälsa hos asylsökande och nyanlända migranter (2015)

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