Author: S R Larson (presentation)
Before Sverigedemokraterna (the Swedish Democrats) won seats in the Swedish national parliament in September last year there was not a critical word uttered in the Riksdag about Sweden’s immigration policy. Today the situation is different: SD politicians take every opportunity to challenge the reckless open-borders policies imposed by the political elite. The first reaction from that elite was to expand an already excessively generous immigration policy to invite even more immigrants from far-away corners of the world. Though this might have been expected (I personally did not think they would have the audacity) it is nevertheless refreshing to see that the SD challenge is not going unnoticed by the elite.
The fact of the matter is that the SD challenge has come at the very last moment: the open borders policy has overwhelmed Sweden with immigration of a size and character that begs the question if the prime minister actually knows what he is doing. The official motive for allowing massive immigration is that Sweden is in desperate need of workforce immigration. Presumably, the retirement of the baby boomers born in the 1940s leaves so many open spots on the labor market that native Swedes cannot possibly fill them. Therefore, the story goes, Sweden needs to invite as many marginally educated Somalis and Afghans as possible.
The flaws in this argument are so many that it is surprising it is still being used. To begin with, the 1940s generation has been retiring for about eight years already. The average retirement age in Sweden has been hovering around 62-63 for a long time, which means that of almost one million 40s boomers, some 700,000 have already retired. Any student of the Swedish economy knows that this has not caused any massive shortage of labor at all. On the contrary, over the past ten years the employment rate of the Swedish work force has actually dropped from 67 percent to 64 percent. A larger share of the work force is without a job today than during the Millennium recession, despite the baby boomer generation’s retirement.
It is easy to see why this drop in employment has taken place. In an economy that creates 60,000 new jobs per year in good economic times, the employment rate cannot rise if there is also a large net immigration taking place. Over the past ten years immigration has increased from 60,000 per year to 100,000. During the same time, according to Statistics Sweden migration data, emigration has risen from 33,000 to 48,000 resulting in a significant growth in net migration: ten years ago immigration exceeded emigration by 27,000 people. Today net immigration exceeds 52,000 per year, with a record high of 63,000 in 2009.
These numbers should be considered in view of Sweden’s population of only nine million. To make matters worse, there is a persistent education gap between people leaving and coming to Sweden. Very few immigrants have a high school degree, while the average emigrant has at least a BA university degree.
It is obvious that the arithmetic of Sweden’s immigration policy is working against the best interests of the Swedish people and the Swedish economy. Exporting educated workers and importing uneducated people is bad enough; importing two uneducated workers for everyone who leaves is directly irresponsible. Who is going to pay for the education of these immigrants? If Sweden really had an insatiable need for workforce immigration, then how come the 30 countries within the EU and the Nordic region cannot satisfy that need? Why would Sweden have to rely on the remotest – geographically, culturally and socially – corners of the world to fill its workforce need, provided such a need existed? (Which, again, it does not.)
A couple of factoids from Eurostat, the statistics agency of the EU, further underscore how out-of-control irresponsible this immigration policy actually is. Sweden is Europe’s second-largest recipient of immigrants – in absolute numbers – from the least-developed nations in the world. Only Britain takes in more least-developed immigrants, and its rationale lies in its commonwealth past. Furthermore, in 2007 this small nation, with less than three percent of the EU population, took in 16 percent of all asylum seekers absorbed by the EU. No other EU country accepted a larger share than Sweden.
The asylum-driven inflow is steadfastly growing. Apparently, Sweden has made a name for itself as having open borders: from 2007 to 2010 the number of asylum seekers coming to Sweden increased by 50 percent, with a 32-percent increase from 2009 to 2010 alone.
There is no way to motivate Sweden’s immigration madness, no matter how you slice immigration and labor market statistics. The country has opened its borders, lowered the bar for immigrants with questionable documentation and made its welfare state available even to those who are denied immigration or asylum. The challenge from the Swedish Democrats came in the nick of time. The question is: will it make a difference in the nick of time?
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