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'Most Swedish emigrants ever in 2011': report

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12:06 CET+01:00
2011 marked the largest exodus from Sweden in history with over 50,000 people leaving the country, with China proving to be an ever more popular destination for Swedes who move abroad.

While Sweden added 67,285 people to its population last year, a record 51,179 people left the country, reported Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån - SCB).

"I would say this is due to Swedish companies that have moved abroad, and to an extent, some Swedes follow. I’m thinking of these call centers, they maybe move to other countries and then have a need for people who can speak Swedish,” said Lena Bernhardtz of the SCB to Dagens Nyheter on Monday.

2011 gave the biggest emigration figure ever, even larger than 1887’s mass exodus to America.

SCB suggests the growing numbers of emigrants are due to the populations “increased ability to move”.

However, the agency emphasized the importance of viewing the emigration figures in relation to Sweden's larger population.

While the 1887 movement entailed one percent of the total population leaving Sweden, the new figures, while involving a larger total number of people, only amounts to one half of a percent of Sweden's total population of 9.48 million people.

China proved to be the fastest growing popular destination for Swedes moving abroad, with an 80 percent growth of Swedish emigrants to China compared to 2010.

Last year, 1,787 people chose to move to China, a figure which is five times higher than back in 2000.

As with previous years, SCB reported that the most popular destinations for Swedish emigrants were the Nordic neighbours, the UK and the United States.

Bernhardtz also noted that emigrants are also returning to Sweden to a greater extent than in previous years, which has been made easier than ever in recent years, and particularly applies to students who have taken gap years or have worked abroad.

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The immigration figures grew in 2011 as well, with 96,467 arriving in Sweden last year.

While 15,000 of these people were Swedish born, the SCB reported that people from Poland, Iraq and Afghanistan were the most common natonalities of people who immigrated to Sweden in 2011.

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