EU migration crisis has exposed ‘structural issues’ in Sweden’s housing market, says OECD

By on 23/05/2016 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015. Photo credit:

Delays in the settlement of EU migrants in Sweden have exposed structural issues in the country’s housing market, according to a recent OECD report which calls on the government to invest in public housing.

Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per-capita inflow ever registered in an OECD country.

In recent years the Public Employment Service (PES), which is in charge of the settlement of refugees, has struggled to find sufficient accommodation places for migrants, leading to substantial settlement delays.

The housing shortage “remains the root of the lack of accommodation,” the report Skills and Labour Market Integration of Immigrants and their Children in Sweden says, adding that the Nordic country “is unique among OECD countries in the lack of provision of public housing.”

This, the study says, “is a longstanding issue with repercussions extending well beyond the settlement of newly-arrived refugees, and the increased number of new arrivals “has highlighted the need for reform in this area.”

The report also calls on the government to speed up the effective integration of refugees.

With a strong economy and well-developed integration infrastructure, Sweden is better equipped than many other OECD countries to integrate refugees, the study finds, but the large number of arrivals is testing the efficiency of the reception and integration system.

Presenting the report in Stockholm last week, OECD director for employment, labour and social affairs Stefano Scarpetta said: “While innovative policies to speed the labour market integration of skilled migrants have been introduced, more needs to be done to help others, particularly women, people with low skills, and those who arrive around the end of compulsory schooling.

“Helping all refugees acquire basic foundational skills and supporting employers in their use of migrant skills would help.”

Part of Swedish integration policy is a two-year introduction programme of education and labour market activities to promote job readiness.

While the OECD praises Sweden for its integration policies as “among the most developed in the OECD”, it warns in its report that “there are significant differences in the implementation of the introduction programme across the country, and neither the inputs nor the outcomes of the programme are systematically monitored.”

The OECD calls for better monitoring and evaluation of policies and argues that the introduction programme would benefit from a more flexible duration.


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See also:

John Kay, visiting professor of economics, LSE: Interview

Looking after number one: prioritisation in government

Interview: John Manzoni, chief executive, UK Civil Service

Managing the EU Migration Crisis

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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