A Study of the Relationship Between Migration and Unemployment Among Migrant In Sweden: A Research Proposal

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Wesleyan University
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Research proposal
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Since the end of the Second World War, the population of Sweden has changed fundamentally from being homogenous to becoming heterogeneous. Two key factors have contributed to Sweden's rise as a heterogeneous society. The first one is the influx of migrant workers from the European Union (EU) countries. The creation of a common European market allowed free movement of people and capital across borders among the member countries. Accordingly, tens of thousands of workers have migrated to Sweden in search of employment opportunities. The second factor is Sweden's policy of welcoming refugees (Kristina, 2013). Since the 1940s, Sweden has been a haven for refugees escaping wars, conflicts, and other vulnerabilities in their home countries. For example, the ongoing civil war in Syria has forced many people to flee to several European countries including Sweden.

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Today, Sweden is home to a large number of immigrants (migrant workers, refugees, and other groups). The immigrants not only account for a significant share of Sweden’s population but also have had a major impact on the country’s economy, especially the labor market. Due to Sweden’s relatively small total population and high rate of economic development, immigration is seen as a desirable phenomenon that causes a positive impact on the labor market. As the country’s baby-boomer generation retires from the workforce and only a small population of young people joins the labor market, immigration is expected to be an alternative source of labor for Sweden. However, research indicates that migration does not necessarily result in increased employment prospects for migrants. In fact, migrants record the highest unemployment rate in many countries (Jennissen, 2000). In Sweden, the labor market situation for the whole population has improved significantly since 2000. Employment rates have increased considerably, an indication that immigration has not had any major negative impact on the economy. However, there are wide inequalities between Swedish nationals and immigrants.

Purpose and Limitations

Unemployment has become one of the most discussed topics in migration due to the fear that migrants compete with natives for jobs and therefore put pressure on the labor market. Nonetheless, there are controversies regarding the impact of migration on the unemployment rate of migrants. The purpose of the current research is to determine the relationship between migration and unemployment among migrants in Sweden. Sweden is a small country in Northern Europe with a population of slightly less than ten million people. Despite its small population, Sweden is among the largest recipients of migrants in Europe. As a way to achieve the purpose of the current research, the following questions will guide the study:

  1. Do immigration trends have a significant impact on unemployment in Sweden?

  2. Are immigrants more disadvantaged than natives regarding access to employment opportunities?

  3. Do the immigration flow demographics have a significant impact on unemployment trends in Sweden?

The main limitation is that the focus of this research is in a single country. Moreover, the research is confined to a limited time frame (2000-2016). As such, the findings cannot be generalized to other countries or time periods. Another limitation is that the immigrants are treated as a homogenous group regardless of work experience or years of schooling. This limitation has been necessitated by the lack of appropriate data from the Swedish government. The third limitation relates to the mobility of Swedish natives. The study will not focus on the effects of emigration on the labor market in Sweden.


Several theoretical frameworks will be incorporated to develop an informed basis for the research phenomenon. The migration systems theory will be used to explain why the number of immigrants arriving in Sweden has increased over the years. This theory states that migration patterns can be explained regarding the interaction of macro, micro, and mesostructures (Castle & Miller, 2009). Macro structures refer to the influence of societal factors such as laws, international policies, and other practices enacted by states in both the migrants' home country and the destination country. Microstructures refer to the social networks that are developed by the migrants to facilitate their migration, integration, and settlement in the host countries. The capacity to organize for travel, knowledge of other countries, and cultural capital are vital resources for the creation of microstructures. Meso structures describe institutions, individuals, and groups that are involved in mediating between migrants and politico-economic institutions in the home and host countries. Common mesostructures include human traffickers and other institutions involved in the facilitation of migrant movements.

Globalization Theory

The globalization theory will be used to explain key indicators in global economic, social, and political interactions that have an impact on the macro, micro, and mesostructures. According to this theory, migration patterns are shaped by and revolve in response to prevailing political, social, and economic changes (Tamas & Palme, 2006). Some of these changes include political instability, conflicts, and sustained economic recession. These adverse changes are common in the world today, which means that more and more countries are being affected by an increasing number of migrants. Consequently, there is a need for international cooperation and enhanced global governance regarding the issue of migration.

Studies have shown that globalization is the most important factor that has contributed to a sharp rise in migration. The most notable characteristics of globalization include a sharp rise in cross-border flows in various aspects such as people and capital. Advancements in technology and the development of infrastructure are key drivers of globalization (Castle & Miller, 2009). New communication and information technologies have enhanced knowledge of work opportunities and migration routes. This has led to a sharp rise in the mobility of job seekers and refugees who are desperate to move to other countries in search of better lives. Although some immigrants manage to find well-paying jobs, most of them have been subjugated to the lower end of the employment spectrum. This is the case in many European countries where unemployment rates are very high among migrant families.

Push and Pull Theory

The push and pull theory attempts to explain factors that cause people to leave their countries (push factor) and why they decide to move to a specific country (pull factor). Common push factors include lack of economic opportunities, low standards of living, wars and conflicts, political repression, and natural disasters. On the other hand, common pull factors include political freedom and economic opportunities. Critical to the migration phenomenon is the fact that there are underlying push and pull factors. However, the assumption in this theory is that migrants make rational decisions after comparing the situation in the home and the host countries. In other words, they calculate the relative benefits and costs of leaving their home country for another country. For the case of Sweden immigrants, employment is a key pull factor, especially for migrants from the European Union. The other pull factor is political freedom, which applies mainly to migrants from outside the European Union


The current study will be based on deductive and exploratory approaches. The exploratory approach is ideal for identifying research variables, developing hypotheses, and explaining relationships between different variables. This will help in generating a deeper understanding of the research problem (Bajpai, 2011). The choice of exploratory technique in this research implies that analysis of the collected data requires a choice of further analysis techniques. For this reason, a deductive approach will be adopted and will be critical in linking existing theories of migration and employment to the data testing process. For the purpose of problem investigation, a quantitative approach will be used. This approach will be critical in the areas of data collection and analysis. All the data used in the analysis section will be based on numerical observations.

The study will incorporate both primary and secondary data. Primary data will be obtained mainly from government agencies and will be related to employment, migration, and general economic statistics for Sweden. The main sources of primary data that will be used in this thesis will come from public institutions such as relevant government ministries, the Swedish Integration Board, and the Swedish Labor Market Board. Statistics Sweden is a state agency that compiles and distributes statistics and other vital information on various aspects of society. The statistics are used by the government and other consumers as the basis for political decisions, policy debates, and research. The agency is particularly responsible for providing comprehensive official statistics on the labor market, prices, living conditions, industry and trade, and economy. All primary data will be limited to the period 2000-2016.

Secondary data will be utilized mainly for the purpose of enhancing understanding of the problem and the development of research literature. The main sources of secondary data that will be used in the current research include academic literature relevant to the research literature, as well as scientific review articles. Secondary data will be obtained from relevant journals and databases for the years 2000-2016. Data from Statistics Sweden will be utilized extensively in the current research. In addition, sources from universities, civil society, and research institutions will be used, especially as regards the theoretical and historical perspectives of the research problem.

Various statistical techniques will be used to modify numerical data to answer the research questions in line with the objectives of the study. Pearson repeated moment correlations, independent sample t-tests and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) will be the primary statistical methods that will be used to analyze the primary data. Wilks lambda will be used to test differences among means for the different categories of the study population. Correlation coefficients, significance values, and descriptive statistics (variance, standard deviation, and mean) will be provided for the various research variables.


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Bajpai, N. (2011). Business Research Methods. New Delhi: Pearson Education Limited.

Behrenza, L., Mats, H. & Jonas, M. (2007). Second-Generation Immigrants in the Swedish Labour Market. International Review of Applied Economics, 21(1), 157174.

Borjas, G. (2002). The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), 1335 1374.

Borjas, G. (2010). Labor Economics. New York: McGraw Hill/Irwin.

Card, D. (2001). Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration. Journal of Labor Economics, 19(1), 2264.

Card, D. (2001). Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Market Impacts of Higher Immigrant...

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