Open borders + welfare state = bad news for Europe’s most “welcoming” country
The Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente has been doing a little research into how things are going with Sweden’s left-lauded “welcoming” and “generous” immigrant policies. Her conclusion: “Not so well.” At all.
“In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched,” writes Wente. Citing staggering unemployment rates for immigrants, even after 15 years of living in the country, and skyrocketing welfare costs (58% of welfare payments go to immigrants, 16% of the population).
Meanwhile, the population is getting increasingly bulkanized, with more and more immigrants uninterested in assimilating while now around a quarter of Swedes side with the country’s anti-immigration party.
Wente begins by highlighting stories of Middle Eastern refugees doing everything in their power to get to Sweden because of their touted reputation as Europe’s most immigrant-friendly country, taking in “more refugees per capita than any other European country.” Immigrants now make up 16% of the population, most of them from the Middle East and Africa.
As most of Europe’s leading countries appear to be trying to follow Sweden’s lead, economist Tino Sanandaji, himself an immigrant, told Wente, warns that the “generous” country is facing some major problems, particularly when it comes to employment and crime
“There has been a lack of integration among non-European refugees,” [Sanandaji] told me. Forty-eight per cent of immigrants of working age don’t work, he said. Even after 15 years in Sweden, their employment rates reach only about 60 per cent. Sweden has the biggest employment gap in Europe between natives and non-natives.
In Sweden, where equality is revered, inequality is now entrenched. Forty-two per cent of the long-term unemployed are immigrants, Mr. Sanandaji said. Fifty-eight per cent of welfare payments go to immigrants. Forty-five per cent of children with low test scores are immigrants. Immigrants on average earn less than 40 per cent of Swedes. The majority of people charged with murder, rape and robbery are either first- or second-generation immigrants. “Since the 1980s, Sweden has had the largest increase in inequality of any country in the OECD,” Mr. Sanandaji said.
Wente suggests that one of the reasons things have been allowed to get so bad is the failure of the “self-censorship” of the politically correct Swedish media:
The main political parties, as well as the mainstream media, support the status quo. Questioning the consensus is regarded as xenophobic and hateful. […]
Sweden’s acute immigration problems scarcely feature in the mainstream media. Journalists see their mission as stopping racism, so they don’t report the bad news. Despite – or perhaps because of – this self-censorship, the gap between the opinion elites and the voters on immigration issues is now a chasm.
With the welfare budget quadrupling and the numbers living in “nice Swedish welfare ghettos” expanding, the media can’t effectively hide the reality of the situation from the Swedish people. Now more than half (58%) of Swedes think the number of immigrants being allowed into the country is too high, with 20-25 percent of Swedes now supporting the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party.
Read Wente’s full report here.
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