In reviewing statistics from Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper found that last year one in three Swedish-born applicants had claims denied by the agency.
But applicants from Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey had their claims denied twice as often.
The newspaper also found that applicants born in Sweden had lower denial rates than foreign-born applicants, regardless of the latter’s country of birth.
“It can’t be ruled out that it stems from discrimination,” the agency’s Magdalena Brasch told DN.
Brasch had no explanation for the discrepancy, however, telling the newspaper that further research is needed to determine why the agency appears to favour people born in Sweden over those born abroad.
She theorised, however, that part of the explanation may be due to the high unemployment rates among the groups with high denial rates.
Generally speaking, the unemployed are overrepresented among those who have their claims denied, according Brasch.
Another theory but forward by Hasan Dölek, chair of the National Turkish Association (Turkiska riksförbundet), is a lower level of Swedish comprehension among foreign-born applicants.
“Försäkringskassan has a huge number of forms and it’s not easy to know how everything should be filled in and what all the rules entail. Sometimes we have to help our members to fill in the forms,” he told the newspaper.
He agreed that the agency is guilty of “some form” of discrimination, but admitted it was hard to specify exactly what sort.