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Record number of people leave Sweden

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'Don't go to America' pamphlet from the early 20th century, and Skavsta airport. Files: Private, TT
10:29 CEST+02:00
The number of people who left Sweden behind last year hit the historic levels seen when Swedes headed to America in droves, Statistics Sweden noted on Thursday.

In 2013, 23,500 women and 27,100 men upped sticks and left Sweden. While most still headed to neighbouring Norway, both Denmark and Britain crept up in the table of most popular countries to move to.

The sheer number of emigrants now matches the massive wave of people who left for the US in the 1880s, Statistics Sweden noted.

"Historically, we've not been on this kind of level since the big America emigrations," the state agency said in a statement. "But emigration should be put into proportion to today's population size and the increased possibilities to move about."

In 1887, one percent of the Swedish population left the country, but emigration in 2013 claimed only half a percent of residents. The sheer number of Swedes heading west even spurred the creation of the National Association against Emigration, which had 'Don't go to America' as a logo.

Another significant difference was also noted between today and the mass exodus at the turn of last century. Nowadays, many emigrants will be expected to return to Sweden, while yesteryear's migrants left for good.

Norway still topped the list of most popular destinations. In 2013, 14 percent of the emigrants headed across the border. Other popular countries are Denmark, the UK, the US, Finland, and Germany - although the exact positions have switched somewhat in recent years.

To be considered as an emigrant, a Swedish resident must have told the tax authorities that they plan to live abroad for more than twelve months.

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The new term "return emigrant" connotes a person who was born abroad, moved to Sweden, and has then left again. Danes, Norwegians and Finns most often returned to  their countries of origin, trailed by Indians, Poles, and Germans.

Last year, that group dominated the emigrant population. About 68 percent of all people who left Sweden had at one time immigrated to Sweden. The average return emigrant has spent six years and eight months in Sweden. Iranian-born return immigrants had on average spent ten years in Sweden, while Indians had spent two and a half years living in Sweden before leaving again. 
 

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