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Immigration and emigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2019 and projection 2020–2070

Immigration and emigration 1970–2019 and projection 2020–2070


Immigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2019 and projection 2020–2070


Emigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2019 and projection 2020–2070



The number of immigrants has varied from year to year. The significant peaks of labour immigration at the end of the 1960s, refugees from Iran at the end of the 1980s and from Yugoslavia in the beginning of the 1990s can be noted in the diagram. During the 2000s, the number of immigrants has increased and reached an all-time-high in 2016. Since then the immigration has decreased, but it still remains at a historically high level. There are several reasons for this: asylum seekers, returning native-born persons, immigration due to employment and studies, and immigration due to family reunification among both native- and foreign born persons all contribute to the current level of immigration. Among refugees and labour migrants, there were more men than women and the majority of family migrants were women. During most years, but not all, there have been slightly higher immigration of foreign born men than of foreign born women. In recent years, there has been a surplus of men, when in- and out-migration is considered. That is related to the immigration of refugees in recent years. As the immigration of refugees is estimated to decrease in the following years, followed by a decline in family migration, the positive net migration of males is expected to decrease. But the number of immigrated men are expected to be higher than the number of women during the projection period.

In 2019, 116 000 persons immigrated to Sweden. The immigration is expected to decrease to just over 100 000 per year in the long-term. It is a lower level than in recent years but considerably higher than it has been historically. The assumptions about the future migration contain a higher degree of uncertainty, both in the short and in the long term. In the short term, the ongoing corona-crisis contributes to this uncertainty. It is most likely that there will be significant year-to-year variation in the number of immigrants to Sweden in the following years, but it is difficult to predict when these peaks will occur. The level of immigration shown in the forecast should be interpreted as an average around which the number of immigrants is expected to fluctuate. It is likely that immigration will continue to be affected by conflicts and political instability in the rest of the world. In the projection it is also expected that the number of people who move to Sweden for reasons other than conflicts and political instability will increase.

The emigration of persons born in Sweden has seen an increasing trend for some time. Until the beginning of 1990s, about 10 000 Swedish-born persons emigrated every year. The number increased during the 1990s and since the late 1990s around 20 000 Swedish-born persons emigrated every year. About the same number of Swedish-born men and women emigrated during the last ten years, although the number of men was slightly higher.

The emigration of foreign born persons follows a similar pattern. Until the beginning of the 21st century, there were about as many Swedish-born as foreign born emigrants. Thereafter, the number of foreign born emigrants has increased. This was influenced by the increase of the total foreign born population. Over the years, more foreign born men than foreign born women have emigrated. This trend is expected to continue during the projection period. Different groups have different tendencies to emigrate. Those who have come to Sweden as refugees or due to family ties have stayed in a greater extent, while those who immigrated to Sweden due to work or studies have left the country to a greater extent. During the projection period, a larger share of the immigrants is expected to consist of groups whose stay are more temporary than permanent. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the expected number of emigrants.

This projection is based on calculations carried out on 16–20 March 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and it was not yet possible to assess the economic impact, in particular. At the time, there were signs of a pending economic decline, and in the period between the calculations and publication, these signs have become more pronounced. The extent of the economic decline remains uncertain, and thereby also its impact on the population development.

The future population of Sweden 2020-2070

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