Sweden is the world's best country for immigrants: US study

The Local Sweden
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Sweden is the world's best country for immigrants: US study
People enjoying the sun on Nytorget square in Stockholm. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Sweden is the best place in the world for immigrants, at least according to a new ranking.


INTERVIEWS: Is Sweden really the best country for immigrants?

The Nordic country was ranked in top spot followed by Canada and Switzerland in the US News & World Reports' list of "Best Countries to be an immigrant", released on Monday.

It said it based the scores on responses from more than 21,000 people quizzed for its Best Countries survey measuring global perceptions of countries, as well as factors including economic data and immigration and integration policies.

"Sweden is No. 1 in the rankings due in large part to favourable perceptions of its economy, particularly in terms of stability and commitment to income equality," US News data reporter Deidre McPhillips told The Local.

The other countries in the top-ten were Australia, Germany, Norway, United States, Netherlands, Finland and Denmark.

Record-high immigration is believed to be a major part of the reason behind Sweden's population boom, including an unprecedented 163,000 asylum seekers during the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015. Workers and families have also travelled to the country in recent years, attracted by its reputation for a high quality of life, booming startup scene, gender equality and being one of the best countries to raise a family.


Parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave in Sweden. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

But many of The Local's international readers have also raised concern about stricter migration rules affecting foreigners as well as Swedish citizens wanting to bring their families to Sweden, long waiting times for residency permits, and an acute housing shortage particularly affecting the major cities.

Sweden's work permit rules have also come under fire over a number of high-profile cases of employed and tax-paying foreigners being deported in the past year over what have appeared to be minor administrative errors, prompting the government to promise to change the law.

"Because this is the first time we've done this particular ranking, and because there isn't data available yet on the effects of Sweden's tighter immigration policies, we are not able to predict how it would rank in the future. However, based on this year's results, countries that have more open immigration policies, offer integration measures of migrants and have a strong economy do rank higher," McPhillips told The Local.


More than ten million people live in Sweden. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

US News also highlights a changing mood in Sweden toward foreigners, with increasing public talk about "Swedish values" and rising support for anti-immigration political party the Sweden Democrats.

Do you agree? What are the best and worst things about being an immigrant in Sweden? We're preparing a more in-depth article – e-mail [email protected] if you want to share your story.


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