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Scandinavia Today / Sweden


Relationship between immigration and social problems in Sweden - the more immigrates live in a town the fewer there are social problems - Report

Sunday, 03 February 2013
There is the growing question of immigration in Sweden today than many months and years ago. As the far right Social Democrats continues to gain grounds based on its rejection of increasing immigration to Sweden, a new report out today looks at the relationship between social problems and the concentration of immigrants in a Swedish city or town sector.

It emerged that the towns in Sweden that have the greatest social problems have fewer immigrants, according to the head of the Swedish Reform Institute (Reforminstitutet), Stefan Fölster, in a new report. This comes after the growing debate about the effects of immigration in Sweden as desperate people hit by social deprivation apparently accelerated by the economic crisis start turning and blaming the immigrants for their woes.

Writing in the Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, Stefan Fölster  identify that in the middle of Sweden, there are regions where unemployment, welfare dependency and debt problems are approaching Greek or Spanish levels. A new analysis using the UN Human Development Index tools shows that the problem is worst in places with few people with a foreign background. Generally, the Swedish analysts have in past used failed integration problems to associate it with areas that have immigrants that have not done well economically but fail to have a greater picture of how the are actually making Sweden great.

Of the five worst items used by the Human Development Index to class quality of life and progress, four show an exceptionally fewer within the areas populated by immigrants. The 20 worst places in Sweden with a "low life" have fewer immigrants than the average, while the top 20, places with a best quality of life have more immigrants, writes Fölster in Dagens Nyheter.

The sectors that topped the reviews in the quality of life include school and education sector, health care, people's personal finances and a category called hopelessness and inclusiveness.
For example, in Munkfors over 36 percent of young people are unemployed. In Västgötska Töreboda, 21 percent of the population are in debt and are being pursued by the payment and enforcement officials. In Ragunda one in five adults of working age does not have a job or in education according to the reports. All these three municipalities have a low proportion of people with a foreign background, but still end up among the poorest on the "human development index".

This surprising result does not imply that integration problems for some immigrant groups are negligible, he writes, but that many Swedish cities with few immigrants have serious problems of similar nature.

He believes that "the immigrant narrowly focused, and not particularly successful integration policy" should be replaced by a broader policy which addresses the "high thresholds and the lack of enterprise" that exists in many poor immigrant communities and some immigrant communities.

There are a number of mechanisms that allow a city have problems, including falling property prices, high construction costs, poor competitiveness of the wage market and a municipal equalization system which according to scientists is negative for growth in poor localities.

"These fundamental mechanisms are Sweden's political parties very reluctant to discuss, which has opened for a pseudo debate about the impact of immigrants, "writes Fölster. Team

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