September 3, 2018


Sweden's Economy Is Getting a Lift From Migrants (Hussam Al-Homsi, 8/21/18, Bloomberg)

Lost amid the political rhetoric is the story of the bounce that people such as Al-Homsi have delivered to the $540 billion economy. Sweden's rapid intake of huge numbers of refugees and migrants, about 600,000 in total over the past five years, has produced some of the highest growth rates in Europe and will also help it address the challenges of an otherwise aging population.

"These refugees and immigrants came at precisely the right time," says Lars Christensen, an economist and founder of Markets & Money Advisory, a consulting firm. "I'm worried about the lack of incentives [to work] in the Swedish welfare state, but I'm not worried about the 250,000 refugees that have arrived."

Gross domestic product increased more than 3 percent in the first two quarters of the year, which is considerably faster than the euro zone's roughly 2 percent growth. In recent years, Sweden has granted thousands of work permits to information technology developers, berry pickers, and cooks. Foreign-born workers accounted for all the job growth in the industrial sector last year and for 90 percent of the new jobs in the welfare sector, in particular health care and elderly care.

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson on Aug. 16 said the new arrivals are now getting jobs twice as fast as immigrants who arrived late in the last decade. Immigrants in Sweden have a labor force participation rate of about 82 percent, some 4 percentage points higher than the EU average.

Posted by at September 3, 2018 4:23 AM