Scandinavia: Refugees at work

Arbetsmarknad, Integration, Migration, Patrick Joyce


Germany was the top destination country by far for refugees arriving in the years between 2014 and 2017. But much-smaller Sweden received more asylum applications in relation to its population. The other two Scandinavian countries – Norway and Denmark – also saw significant numbers of asylum seekers in relation to their small populations. Since then, Scandinavian countries have turned to the sizable task of integrating new arrivals into the labour market. Refugees have struggled to find work in the Scandinavian countries. Figure 1 shows the employment rate (per cent) among adult refugees in Sweden, Denmark and Norway by years after arrival in the host country. As shown in Figure 1 only between 20 and 35 per cent of male refugees are working two years after arrival. The share in work increases with each year after arrival but employment generally plateaus after ten to fifteen years, significantly below the employment rate among the overall population. Female refugees need more time than males to find work. They usually have less schooling than their male counterparts and often bear children after arrival.48 Employment among female refugees picks up after some time though.

Refugees have long faced several barriers to finding work in Scandinavia, including lower average levels of education than the domestic workforce, lack of host-country language skills, a limited professional network and discrimination.49 These challenges, combined with the large number of arrivals in 2015–16, increased the willingness of Scandinavian governments to promote faster tracks to employment. In Denmark large reforms of integration policies were introduced in 2016. This led to substantial improvements in labour market outcomes.

Joyce, P. (2019). Scandinavia: Refugees at work. Hesselmans, M. (Red.), New in Europe – A Vision on Migration. Bryssel: European Liberal Forum.

Liknande innehåll

Ratio Working Paper No. 350: A quickly transforming labour market
Working paperPublikation
Uddén Sonnegård, E.


Publicerat i

Ratio Working Paper


The Covid-19 pandemic has made it clear that the labour market situation can change
extremely rapidly when there is an unexpected exogenous shock to the economy. Even
though the transformation of the labour market as a result of the development of ICT
(Information Communication Technology) industries facilitates more-flexible
conditions, it is now more important than ever for EU Member States to improve the
functioning of their labour markets. Member States need to increase possibilities for
training and retraining throughout peoples’ working lives in order to smooth the
transformation into a digital world of work.

Den svenska modellens framtid
Karlson, N., Stern, C. & Uddén Sonnegård, E.


Publicerat i

Kommer den svenska arbetsmarknadsmodellen att klara av de utmaningar som globaliseringen, digitaliseringen och utvecklingen av artificiell intelligens för med sig? Kan den hantera den åldrande befolkningen och den allt större aktiviteten från EU:s sida på arbetsmarknadsområdet?

I denna bok diskuteras vad aktuell forskning har att säga om dessa frågor. Den svenska modellen utvärderas utifrån fyra kriterier: konkurrenskraft, utvecklingskraft, kompetensförsörjning och ett inkluderande samhälle.

En slutsats är att den svenska arbetsmarknadsmodellen har betydande problem. Några av dem kommer inifrån modellen själv, medan andra kommer utifrån. Samtidigt har modellen stora fördelar som är väl värda att bevara och utveckla. Men för att hantera utmaningarna är reformer nödvändiga. För både arbetsmarknadens parter och politiker bör den långsiktiga ambitionen vara att stärka förmågan till kontinuerlig utveckling.

Boken kan beställas här.

A Literature Review of the Nexus between Migration and Internationalization
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Hatzigeorgiou, A. & Lodefalk, M.



Protectionism and anti-globalization tides have been rising already before the COVID-19 pandemic, with Brexit and the China-U.S. trade war, as two examples. A continued disruption to global trade, investment and value chains could worsen global development. Economic recovery will require restoring firms’ ability to trade, offshore and invest globally. To achieve this, it will be useful to understand the role of migration for foreign trade, investment and other aspects of internationalization. In this paper we review and discuss over 100 papers published about migrants’ roles on international trade, foreign direct investment and offshoring. Although the evidence suggests that migration facilitates trade and internationalization, we also note substantial gaps and inconsistencies in the existing literature. The aim of this paper is to encourage further research and assist policymakers in their efforts to promote economic recovery including internationalization.

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