Swedes at Arlanda airport. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
More Swedish residents chose to leave the Nordic nation to live in other countries in 2014 than at any other time in the last 160 years, freshly released figures suggest.
Between 1850 and 1930, there was mass emigration from Sweden amid high unemployment and crop failures, with around 50,000 people a year quitting the Scandinavian country.
According to Statistics Sweden, some 51,237 people left Sweden in 2014, including foreign-born residents heading back to their home countries or other destinations.
“The proportion of emigrants in relation to the Swedish population as a whole is not as great as in the 1800s. But the fact remains that Sweden is today also a country of emigration,” Maria Solevid, political scientist at the University of Gothenburg, told Swedish broadcaster SVT on Thursday.
The official statistics follow separate figures released by the non-profit organisation Svenskar i världen (Swedes Worldwide), which last year published a widely-shared list of the most popular foreign destinations Swedes relocate to.
The United States featured at the top of the table, with 150,000 Swedes following in the footsteps of their ancestors. Meanwhile 90,000 are understood to live in the UK, with a similar figure settling in sunny Spain. Other warm climes including Thailand, France and Italy were among the leading ten choices.
However according to Solevid, there has been little detailed research on the specific reasons Swedes seek new lives abroad.
“There is stunningly little knowledge of these people and why they move,” she said, adding that her team intended to investigate the issue.
Despite rising numbers of people fleeing their frozen homeland, Sweden's population is continuing to grow at a record rate, driven by unprecedented immigration. Some 163,000 people sought asylum in Sweden in 2015, while the number of foreigners relocating from other EU countries also continued to grow rapidly.
Sweden's total population is expected to pass 10 million for the first time in history later this year, according to Statistics Sweden.