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30 June 2023

Sweden: The long-term integration of refugees from former Yugoslavia

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A working paper from The Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU) studies the long-term integration of refugees from former Yugoslavia. 

The paper analyses the economic and social integration of refugees from former Yugoslavia who migrated to Sweden in the early 1990s, focusing on both short- and long-term outcomes. During the initial years following their arrival, the Swedish state and local authorities made significant investments in language training, adult education, and labour market inclusion programmes.

As a result of these investments, Yugoslav refugees experienced a notable surge in employment and earnings a few years after their arrival. These improvements could also be attributed to the fact that the Swedish labour market improved in general towards the end of the 1990s, and to the fact that a notable number of those from former Yugoslavia had pre-established connections in Sweden due to previous labour immigration from the region. A substantial proportion found employment in manufacturing and service sectors and maintained these positions over time.

Despite their promising advancements in the early years, however, Yugoslav refugees' long-term standing in the labour market aligns with slower patterns seen in earlier refugee cohorts. Further, for those aged 50 and above upon arrival, labour market outcomes were less favourable.

IFAU 2023:16
(1.22 MB - PDF)


Linus Liljeberg, Sara Roman, Olof Åslund
Geographic area
Contributor type
Academics and experts
Original source
Posted by
Lisa Pelling
Country Coordinator

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