• Sweden's news in English

'Smarter' immigrants coming to Sweden: study

18 Apr 2012, 15:27

Published: 18 Apr 2012 15:27 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

While only 31 percent of immigrants who arrived in Sweden prior to 1991 had some form of post-secondary education, 44 percent of immigrants who moved to Sweden after 2002 have some form of higher education.

The figures come from a comprehensive survey of the level of education of people in Sweden carried out by Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån – SCB).

The study also found that roughly same same percentage of Swedes (39 percent) and those born abroad (38 percent) have some level of post-secondary education.

According to the survey, the level of education has increased most among immigrants from South America.

An increasing percentage of immigrants from Africa, Asia, North America, and Oceania who have arrived since 2002 also possess a higher level of education compared with those who arrived prior to 1991.

And while more immigrants from the rest of the world are coming to Sweden with higher levels of education, the same can't be said of immigrants from the European Union and the Nordic region, where the percentage of immigrants with post-secondary education has decreased somewhat in the last two decades.

The differences in level of education between immigrant groups also vary due to difference between countries of origin, their ages and reason for immigration.

The study also found that 20 percent of those born outside of Sweden possessed pre-secondary education, whereas the corresponding number among Swedes was 12 percent.

Immigrant women were more likely to have a low level of education, while the opposite went for Swedish women.

Sweden's large cities also appear to be be magnates for attracting educated people, whether born in Sweden or abroad, the survey found.

Story continues below…

The Local/rm


Related links:

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:28 April 18, 2012 by Aquos
Yup, I see this everyday with the huge amount of immigrants from Somalia who can't even count!
16:35 April 18, 2012 by rtharper
Aquos, if it makes you feel better, I'll be coming soon, hopefully with my PhD =p
16:48 April 18, 2012 by Abe L
What's the point if Swedish employers don't employ them? They could have the intellect of Steven Hawkins but won't get a job.
16:49 April 18, 2012 by Pakistani_Student
I think sweden should make its immigration easier for non-european educated applicants especially those with Masters or PhD degrees.
16:57 April 18, 2012 by lilsocks
Why Pakistani_Student? The UK is a prime example of why such a move doesn't work. If someone wants to move to another country and work I strongly believe that they should already have a job offer from that said country and in an industry that requires recruitment from outside of the local availability.

I've met a number of people from across the globe that have higher level degrees and some of them (not all) were as thick as two short planks (very thick) which leads me to believe that they either bought their degree or got someone else to do the work.

FYI.........I'm an immigrant who got my job BEFORE moving here and the company I work for had been trying to recruit for over 8 months before they turned to me (headhunted).
17:00 April 18, 2012 by Pakistani_Student
@lilsocks, I agree with this idea of having a job before immigration, so once i person has a job, i think he should be given nationality sooner rather than waiting for 3 or 5 years ...
17:49 April 18, 2012 by byke
How are such statistics gathered?

Considering many "immigrants" find that when they arrive in Sweden their qualifications are not recognized. Often in relation to the "Swedish apartheid language laws" of 2009.

I wonder how qualified the reporter of this article is, in relation to the story they reprinted.
19:16 April 18, 2012 by Kublai
How many of these so-called educated somalians, afghans and iraqis have bought forged university diplomas? I have met many people with uni degrees but like lilsocks mentioned, they were thick as pigshit.
19:17 April 18, 2012 by wabasha
i was sent a survey like this back in 2009, tossing in the trash. then they sent another a few weeks later so I filled it out and sent it in. i was impressed with their persistance.
19:27 April 18, 2012 by Sven the banana

why don't you go studying in a rich muslim country like Saudia Arabia or United arab emirates. Here you can't live according to sharia? Just by coming to a liberal country like this you break your religous rules with all the scantily dressed women that are around here!
19:50 April 18, 2012 by E.N.T.W.I.N.E.D
@ Sven the banana

;-) I do agree with you 100% .... They should be heading to these rich arabic countries instead of sitting around do nothing, at least they might find job and live suits their believes...
20:09 April 18, 2012 by AnEye
@ Sven the banana & E.N.T.W.I.N.E.D

From your analysis and diverting the discussion by bringing Islam/Arab/Sharia out of nowhere it seems like unlike #Pakistani_Student you do not even have a masters degree. And if you do then please take another course in communication skills where some one might teach you how not to screw a discussion under influence of your prejudices.

#Pakistani_Student just comments in line with the article and you guys out of nowhere pop up with racist comments to project racist image of swedes. Get a life.
20:32 April 18, 2012 by gpafledthis
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:38 April 18, 2012 by Sven the banana

That war really racist!
20:40 April 18, 2012 by Pakistani_Student
no doubt what i had heard about hatred in sweden is true, just see these few comments , get personal when u get frustrated ...
21:16 April 18, 2012 by GroRez
I can see at my job that there are positions available, but it's very hard to fill them with competent people.

Most of the recruitments in the past year were of foreign born people with high education, and most of the part got PhD or Master degree in KTH/Chalmers.

Not surprised, more and more swedes turn from some domains, notably mechanical engineering.
21:38 April 18, 2012 by jostein
Hahr, believe that and you believe anything. The political spindoctors are in control of statistics in sweden these days.
22:07 April 18, 2012 by Swedishmyth
It doesn't make sense for productive Westerners to come to Sweden. Most other industrialized countries reward ambition much more. Meaning higher salaries and lower taxes.
22:13 April 18, 2012 by GroRez
Maybe these "productive Westerners" like more this calm and relaxed life in Sweden :) Maybe one does not need to be Swedish to appreciate Sweden.
22:26 April 18, 2012 by Freelife
On the other hand...

1. India, the biggest importer of weapon, buys a lot of weapons from Sweden. Same with Pakistan.

2. Telenor etc have started big operations in India, Russia etc..

3. Ikea plans to open shops in India.

4. Ericsson base-stations are used a lot in India, Pakistan etc..

So.. people living on this planet have to do business with each other. Poor go to work whereas rich go to sell. :)
23:27 April 18, 2012 by libertarianism
"...20 percent of those born outside of Sweden possessed pre-secondary education, whereas the corresponding number among Swedes was 12 percent..."

What is "pre-secondary education"?
23:40 April 18, 2012 by Max Reaver
I agree with some of the comments above. Unless the labor market have the room and willingness to cater for these highly educated immigrants, the statistics mentioned in the article is nothing but another way to fool the public. Hopefully the immigration policy won't end up as having every cleaner and waiter with PhD education, even though I'm afraid that's exactly the direction we are heading.
00:34 April 19, 2012 by Greysuede
i wonder what they can do that we cannot?
00:43 April 19, 2012 by jomamas
Sweden - if you keep up your mass migration, there will be no more Sweden.

Immigrants are good people generally, they just want stability for themselves and their kids.

But eventually, the number of non-ethnic swedes will overwhelm you - and 'Swedish' will just be a relic for old people.

'Swedish' will become be a language required to be spoken by government officials, but services will also be in English, and 50% of the languages spoken at home will be neither Swedish nor English.

How do I know this?

I am Canadian. I live in Toronto. 50% immigrants, 75% first generation Canadian. There is no such thing as 'Canadian' in Toronto, the nation's largest city.

You must stop immigration now, and keep it to very low levels. Some refugees, some educated types, some entrepreneurs, some by marriage - that's it.
03:42 April 19, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
In Canada we have all kinds of new immigrants with PHD's or even MD's driving taxi or deliverying pizza. A lot of the reason is because the degrees from where these people come from (mostly 3rd world) are not considered as equivalent to the degrees from developed countries so are not recognized. So even if these immigrants are "educated " by standards in their own countries, it is useless for employment if your degrees are not recognized in Canada. I'm sure a PHD from any major Swedish University would easily be considered equivalent to a Canadian PHD, but the same degree from some third world university would maybe not likely be considered as being to the same standard.

Besides, a PHD by itself is no guarantee of a job in Canada since there are lots of people with PHD's nowadays. If you are a heavy machine operator or tradesman you'd probably find it much easier to find a high paying job, especially in the oil patch in Alberta.
08:24 April 19, 2012 by Freelife
@The Canadian native!

Yes. The native people of Canada always had English or French as their mother tongue.

:D . All the European-origin people are natives of Canada. Only non-European-origin people have immigrated recently. :D right?

Wow... !
09:40 April 19, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
Having worked in international companies in south american, middle east, etc. I can tell you that "highly educated" from Harvard versus some no name university in Mali is night and day. Hell, I get emails in my spam box everyday for a Masters degree by mail. Point is all education is not equal, by a long shot.
10:30 April 19, 2012 by Freelife

Exactly, many good institution of Education in Asia are quite unknown to people in Europe.

How many names of great institutions in China, Japan, Korea, India etc do you know ? Or How many in the USA know about KTH, LTH, BTH, etc etc?

Some are just ignorant about other cultures, nations etc.. and their superiority makes them never to learn.

And Harvard graduates will come in flocks to work Sweden!!? :D

The american top universities have a lot of foreign students who study, invent and contribute to the USA.


"Some 671,616 international students attended U.S. institutions in 2008-9, an increase of almost 8 percent from a year earlier. First-time-student enrollments grew even more robustly, by nearly 16 percent."
10:37 April 19, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme

I think US universities attract a different sort of student than Scandinavian universities have in the past. University in the US is VERY expensive so you get students who are ambitious, driven, and very serious about their studies. I notice in Scandinavia, and this is a generalization, not everyone, but I have met many a person who came to study as it was free. No other reason but to get a free diploma from a European school and hopefully a visa. I found the UK to be not far behind either as when I studied there, most of the foreign students just wanted a visa and the easiest way is to go to school. As a side note, I have degrees from universities in the US, France, and UK and live in Scandinavia so these are personal observations and does not include everyone.
11:54 April 19, 2012 by Freelife

"a free diploma from a European school and hopefully a visa"

To be contextual to the article, the "free education" is not there for non-EU citizens. Hence the non-European immigration for the sake of a "a free diploma from a European school and hopefully a visa" doesn't exist anymore. No the tuition fee for any university in Sweden is as expensive as in the US.

And the 'Smarter immigrants' arriving from last years are the mainly the IT consultants and others.

You talked about " I can tell you that 'highly educated' from Harvard versus some no name university in Mali is night and day."

Well are all universities in Sweden as par with Harvard? Why doesn't Swedish govt. implement entrance tests?
12:06 April 19, 2012 by soultraveler3
Have to agree with this.

AbeL in #3 "What's the point if Swedish employers don't employ them?"

Byke #7 "Considering many "immigrants" find that when they arrive in Sweden their qualifications are not recognized."

It's nice that they're bring more educated people in, but what AbeL and Byke said above is so true.

To Byke's point, I have a background in pharmacy and 10 years experience (from the U.S.) and can't get a job here without going to almost 2 more years of school. On top of that I'd only earn about half of what I earned in the states. It's not worth it.

It's so frustrating because I had språkpraktik at a local pharmacy for a few months and it's the exact same as it was back in the states except for that everything comes prepackaged, there's a lot less paperwork / phone calls and there's no insurance to mess around with. So it's actually easier and a lot less stressful than working in a pharmacy stateside. The head pharmacist wanted to hire me, which would've been wonderful, but she couldn't because I lacked a Swedish education. She thought it was stupid too.

AbeL also makes a very strong point. There already are educated immigrants in Sweden but nobody seems to hire them.

I went to SFI (3 years ago) with a chemist, a chemistry teacher, a doctor, and an engineer, so there were 5 educated white-collar professionals out of about 30 students. There was also a master carpenter and goldsmith in our group and probably a few others. We see each other around town and the only one that's been able to find a job in that time was the chemist and that's only a part-time summer job.

It's sad. The educated immigrants I met at SFI were the ones most interested in really integrating into Swedish society. As the time goes on though, it becomes harder and harder to do so. Even if you've completed SFI and SAS, continual progress in the language suffers due to unemployment and a lack of long term, meaningful interactions and conversations in Swedish. Not having a job also makes it harder to meet new people and make new friends.

Needing perfect Swedish isn't a good excuse for not hiring immigrants. Companies in other countries hire educated and non-educated immigrants all the time that only possess a basic understanding of the local language and it works. Given the opportunity to work and integrate it only takes a few months time to become really proficient in a new language. Sweden rarely gives anyone that chance.

p.s. Sorry for the long post, but these issues have long been a source of personal frustration.
12:31 April 19, 2012 by Cephalectomy
and sweden refuses residence for these well educated, gives the residence to the completly opposite kind.
12:40 April 19, 2012 by Freelife

"I notice in Scandinavia, and this is a generalization, not everyone, but I have met many a person who came to study as it was free."

That's because they are poor. What's wrong in utilizing an option of free education and a better living if it is available by a poor person in a legal way? Doesn't Sweden do business with countries of these poor people for profit?
13:18 April 19, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
This is more government propaganda. The non-European, non-US, non-Oz immigrants I've met since moving here are as dumb as rocks. Just found out one of my SFI classmates has a Master's Degree....from a fine institution in Nigeria. No wonder he's one of the worst students.
13:23 April 19, 2012 by mnphoto87
As an immigrant, they recently mailed me a packet asking about my level of education. I ignored it at first, but they sent a new one every few days - it was like that scene in Harry Potter. It took me 8 months to land a job, and that was only after I got my foot in the door via a reccomendation from a friend of a friend. I do suspect that not knowing Swedish was the main reason I never got an interview before this - either that or Sweden really does have a 'it's who you know' attitude towards hiring.
14:22 April 19, 2012 by Freelife
@Spuds MacKenzie

Check the following about a " non-European, non-US, non-Oz immigrant".


You certainly are a very brilliant person to make negative generalizations about 60-70% of the worlds people. Bravo.!
15:11 April 19, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
@Freelife Yes, Asian universities are good, too. You missed my point it seems!
15:39 April 19, 2012 by Freelife
@Spuds MacKenzie

" Asian universities are good, too"

Well.. then could you elaborate and list out all the bad universities of the world ?

You sounded as if all the universities and people from a part of this Earth are stupid and useless. Didn't you?

And you, yourself said that you have moved to Sweden recently. What makes you so different and special from a lot of non-European, non-Oz, non-US people who work, pay taxes, learn Swedish, appreciate and love Sweden?

What authority or right do you possess to call a fellow human being "as dumb as rocks"?

Go to Arlanda Airport airport. You will find a lot of immigrant taxi drivers. Do you want every one of them to hold a Masters or PhD,? Are they not doing a honest job? So some jobs are just 'superior' to others.! right?
16:04 April 19, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
@freelife Settle down and take a chill pill. Wow you are hyper! LOL
16:33 April 19, 2012 by Freelife
@ Spuds MacKenzie

"Wow you are hyper! LOL"

Well.. That answers and justifies whatever brilliant and non-stereotypical statements you have made. right! Bravo! Mature!
02:16 April 20, 2012 by Jeff10
How smart does one have to be in order to be inclined to move to a country where one may live off of the hard work of others? Sheesh, most 12-year olds could figure out this.

Sweden, a nation of suckers?
03:28 April 20, 2012 by phil23456
Immigration should be about long term effects and cultural impact, not just economics. Is Sweden a country or an economy?
21:07 April 20, 2012 by Iraniboy

no doubt what i had heard about hatred in sweden is true, just see these few comments , get personal when u get frustrated .."

It seems you haven't been to Sweden. More than 90% of people commenting here are even not Swedes. They are not even living in Sweden. They are redirected by some special Non-Swedish websites to spread their international political agenda.
22:21 April 20, 2012 by 4hit wonder
The company I work for is recruiting for a position in Sweden. I really like the idea of living in a country where I can be more proud of what my taxes are paying for, however, I am concerned that my wife will have trouble translating her teaching career there. She has a Masters degree in education and 8 years of experience teaching elementary school here in America. Can anyone help me understand what to expect?
23:52 April 20, 2012 by dearyajuan
SIGN THIS PETITION before the upcoming parliamentary debate on the 30th of May, 2012, to send a clear message to the Swedish Government that it is in the best interests of Sweden to provide International Doctoral Candidates with the right to permanent residency at the completion of their degree (after 4 years - like other migrant workers in Sweden).

11:16 April 21, 2012 by Freelife
"It seems you haven't been to Sweden. More than 90% of people commenting here are even not Swedes. "

I completely agree. Fortunately in reality Swedes in here Stockholm are not very 'hateful' and ''Xenophobic' as it would appear from all these comments.

Each and every country has a section of xenophobic and village-mentality people. That's natural.

Some people posting here negative things about immigrants in Sweden seems to from countries such as UK, Canada, Australia, USA and other far away nations.

check this incident


Some people just have too much time to say a lot of bad and inhuman things about other people and cultures.
13:25 April 21, 2012 by Snob
Sven the banana

You are a loafer petite bourgeoisie nitwit...people who incite without any rhyme or reason...
21:17 May 27, 2012 by Icarusty
The reason why western governments encourage this, even if the public don't, is twofold. One - obviously it accepts highly talented individuals who can help and progress their company/country/economy. 2nd - and more importantly - it deprives the immigrant's home nation of that skillset. So imagine a Chinese scientist or engineer who has big ideas and wants to make breakthroughs, but chooses to live in America - guess who benefits, and who loses out.
22:14 June 14, 2012 by alecLoTh
I'm off to the UK next month - for good! Its been a few tough years here, but now it's time for a pint and fish 'n chips.

Good luck to you all here, hopefully this forum will become a jovial place in the future.
00:53 December 7, 2012 by marin88
Toronto has become a dump. Lots of native canadians are moving out to greener pastures , even to Hamilton. Hard to find true canadians nowadays
Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available