Nordic Integration and Settlement Policies for Refugees

A Comparative Analysis of Labour Market Integration Outcomes

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This report has been commissioned by the Labour Market Committee of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The chief aim is to provide policy-relevant knowledge by conducting a comparative analysis of refugee labour-market integration in Scandinavia. Instead of focusing on the well-known employment gap or the fiscal impact of refugee unemployment, this study investigates the divergent impacts of integration programmes and settlement policies for refugees from different backgrounds. Through longitudinal comparative analysis, this study examines the labour-market integration of refugees in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, searching for explanations of cross-national differences by combining statistical analyses with in-depth analyses of national policies and governance structures.



Participants in the Scandinavian integration programmes

Until the 1970s, labour-market migrants dominated in Scandinavia. However, after the oil crisis reduced the demand for labour, all three countries emplaced restrictions on labour-market migration (Sweden in 1972, Denmark in 1973 and Norway in 1975). From the 1970s and onward, migration to the Scandinavian countries was increasingly dominated by refugees (Bevelander et al., 2013, p. 15). In the 1970s this generally involved organized transfers of UN quota refugees; the unorganized immigration of refugees grew during the 1980s, with three countries experiencing an increase in persons who arrived unannounced at the borders, seeking asylum. Since then, the number of asylum-seekers has fluctuated greatly, with Sweden steadily receiving a significantly larger share than Norway and Denmark (Brochmann & Hagelund, 2010b, p. 333–334).


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