Poverty on the rise among immigrants: study

Two thirds of the people in Sweden relying long term on social benefits have a foreign background, while child poverty in the same group is becoming more and more serious, according to new reports.

”It is a real problem that poverty in Sweden has taken on an ethnic dimension,” said Björn Halleröd, sociology professor at Gothenburg university, to dail Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The report published in the paper revealed that 67 percent of those on long term benefits were born overseas, with unemployment being the main cause.

Using statistics from 2010, of the 117, 000 people on long term benefits, (defined in this case as over 10 months), 78,000 were from foreign countries.

Meanwhile the charity Save the Children has also flagged the problem of child poverty in Sweden.

In a recent survey carried out by the organisation, child poverty is markedly over-represented among those from a foreign background whose parents are unemployed.

To address the problem at government level, minister Maria Larsson is responsible for the welfare of children and the aged.

“It is a great failure of our society that it takes so long for so many people to get a job and an income. It must be frustrating for our new Swedes that it takes so long. It is a poor utilization of human resources,” she said.

“It is difficult when the foreign-born people lack basic education,” she added.

“But how we welcome newcomers to Sweden and treat them, our attitudes and prejudices when a foreign-sounding name comes up, our ability to effectively educate and introduce them to the language, is also crucial.”

Larsson promised that the government will continue their efforts to ensure that people get into work or study.

“The government will also review the income support system, so that there is not an immediate reduction in social benefits when a person starts to receive an income,” said Larsson.

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Sweden heads for economic slowdown EU warns

The European Union has warned that Sweden's economy is facing a marked slowdown, with unemployment set to rise above seven percent as companies cut back on investment.

Sweden heads for economic slowdown EU warns
Jobseekers entering an office of the Swedish Public Employment Service back in 2016, when the economy was booming. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
The August 2019 economic forecast from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs sees the rate of growth of Sweden's real GDP dropping to one percent next year.
This is slower than what is expected for all but four of the other 28 European Union members, and well below the brisk  four percent rate the country enjoyed back in 2015. 
“Sweden’s economy is clearly slowing down. Domestic demand and investment in particular are weak,” the report read, blaming the insipid domestic demand on a decline in investment in the housing market following years of strong growth. 
The slowing economy had also pushed Swedish manufacturers to hold back on investments in equipment, exacerbating the decline. 
The authors pointed out that planned government spending would do little to pick up the slack. 
“In spite of sizeable spending needs for schools, health care and welfare services linked to demographic developments, general government consumption is set to moderate in 2019 and 2020,” the report read. 
“Costs linked to migration should decrease, whereas new defence and health care expenses, priorities of the 2019 budget, are partially compensated by cutbacks on, among other items, labour market and environmental measures.” 
While the report predicted that growth would start to pick up again in 2021, it warned that this recovery could be knocked off course by bad news internationally. 
“As the Swedish business cycle is closely aligned to that of its main trading partners, a deterioration of the external environment would weigh on the export sector,” it read. 
Real GDP in Germany and Belgium was also predicted to grow by just 1 percent in 2020, while Italy was expected to see a still more anaemic 0.04 percent growth rate. Every other EU country was predicted to grow faster, with Romania seeing the fastest growth at 3.6 percent.