This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

What's in Store for Syrian Refugees in Sweden?

The conflict in Syria keeps on keeping on, and the refugees continue to seek a home elsewhere. Last December I commented on a NY Times story that the most sought-after destinations for Syrian refugees were Germany and Sweden, even if only a small fraction actually make it there. But what can they actually expect if they make it there? A recent report from the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC gives us a glimpse of the possibilities:
The report shows that employment rates during newcomers’ initial years in Sweden are relatively depressed for low-educated refugees and migrants who come based on family ties, in comparison to natives and labor migrants from EU countries. Since Sweden's refugees and family arrivals are not selected through employment-related criteria, they are likely to lack locally in-demand skills and are often out of work in the years immediately after arrival. The obstacles these groups face can be exacerbated by certain features of Sweden’s labor market, such as high minimum wages, a relatively small pool of low-skilled jobs, and stringent employment protection for permanent work.
In other words, it won't be easy, although if they can stick it out for a few years, things are likely to improve. In the meantime, the report notes that 15 percent of Sweden's population is foreign-born--higher than in the US--and there is bound to be a xenophobic backlash sooner or later.

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