A new report was recently released showing that immigrants are much more likely to start their own businesses than Swedes. But is this a sign that they are excluded from the regular labour market?

Does Sweden have a problem with integration

On election night the September 19 all established parties promised never to cooperate with the xenophobic Sweden Democrats. But integration and immigration politics has been a hot topic even before the Sweden Democrats were elected into parliament.

But does Sweden really have a problem with integration?

Sweden has traditionally been fairly generous with granting refugee and asylum status compared to other European countries, even though the numbers have gone down slightly since the peak in 2006. But a growing number of immigrants from countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq have caused concerns in some groups that Sweden will one day have problems similar those in Denmark or Holland.

Professor Masoud Kamali from Mid Sweden University says he is worried since Sweden lacks a proper integration policy. After the centre-right Allaince came into power in 2006, he says, the situation for immigrants in Sweden has deteriorated.

“We have burning houses in segregated areas, migrants are much more unemployed and marginalized compared to before,” he says. “No Swedish government has taken integration seriously.”

But his opinions are controversial.

He argues that Swedes are not as tolerant as they would like to think. And that the xenophobic Sweden Democrats is not the primary threat facing immigration and integration since the current centre-right government is heading towards more restricted immigration politics, anyway.

But according to Annika Qarlsson Sweden the Alliance has done a lot to improve the situation for immigrants, even if there is still a lot to be done. During the past four years the integration policy has become more job focused rather than education focused and Qarlsson believes this is the best way to continue.

Many of the problems often mentioned when you talk about integration, she adds, are problems that apply to many groups in society and should not be labelled an immigration problem.

“In Sweden we have been talking about taking care of (immigrants). But we (the Alliance) think that all the people who come to Sweden need tools to make their own future. That is the difference.”

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