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'Foreigners give more to Sweden than they get'

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'Foreigners give more to Sweden than they get'
16:28 CEST+02:00
Foreigners in Sweden bring in more to the country's economy than they take out, according to a new report from the OECD that measured the fiscal impact of immigration.

The report, based on an analysis of 27 countries, compared the taxes paid by foreigner households to their cost to society in terms of social benefits, pensions, and other societal services.

The report concluded that the net difference makes for a positive contribution to society for the majority of the countries involved by an average of €3,000 (26,000 kronor) per year and per household.

In Sweden, foreign households were found to produce a net contribution to society, generating around 1,000 kronor ($153) per year to the state in net fiscal gains. Switzerland topped the tables, however, with the country's migrants bringing in around €15,000 per year and per household.

Immigrants in Sweden without Swedish citizenship were found to be an even bigger asset to society, primarily due to lower pension costs, bringing in a net gain of €5,000 compared with a €6,000 average across the 27 countries in the report.

Sweden's Integration Minister took to Twitter to voice his support for the study, writing that he is "often asked on Twitter about the costs of immigration. Now, even the OECD is supporting the answer I usually give."

The OECD noted that for countries with higher immigration levels such as Sweden, raising the levels of employment among foreigners to one on par with native-born population would generate "significant economic returns".

Sweden has seen a large increase in immigration in recent years, though numbers dropped slightly in 2011 compared to 2010. The nation's population reached 9.5 million in 2011 after a increase of 67,000 from the previous year.

"Governments must do everything they can to improve immigrants' job prospects," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría, said in presenting the report in Brussels together with EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.

"Tackling high and long-term unemployment now is essential. Continuing to help immigrants integrate will also ensure they can play their part in driving growth as the global economy recovers."

Foreigners account for 15 percent of Sweden's population, or roughly 1.4 million people, a figure that has seen a spike since a 2008 reform which made it easier for employers to recruit labour from non-EU countries.

The report also pointed out that Sweden was one of the top nations when it came to destinations for asylum seekers, with the country recording 44,000 applications in 2012 compared to just 30,000 the year before.

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) predicted a further increase for 2013 in light of the unrest in Syria, where 13 percent of the 2012 asylum seekers to Sweden hailed from. A further 13 percent came from Somalia, with 12 percent from Afghanistan.

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