The study is mainly based on questionnaire surveys carried out in schools. The researchers have followed a sample of approximately 5,000 young people in Sweden from 129 primary schools from grade 8 (age 14–15), that is, those who are normally born in 1996. In Sweden, these young people have (so far) been followed up on four different occasions, with questions about their friends, schooling, attitudes, free time and family, etc. On the basis of this data, it is possible to draw conclusions about integration into the country as a whole for this age group.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

Integration has come a long way in terms of education, employment, income, etc. where young people with a foreign background – i.e. foreign-born or born in Sweden with two foreign-born parents - tend to have good connections to the labor market and do very well in the education system, with one exception, namely unfinished primary and secondary education.

  • Young people with a foreign background also have a strong optimism for the future, good general health and a high self-estimated quality of life, and their psychological well-being is immediately better than that of other young people.
  • Integration of young people can be described as selective, where progress in education and work contrasts with persistent differences in social and cultural aspects.
  • Sweden is a segregated society, where young people different backgrounds live separate and in many ways different lives. It stems from a combination of strong residential segregation, large differences in the risk of growing up in socio-economic marginalization, a strong tendency to find a partner from the same national origin, as well as large and, in many cases, persistent differences in religiosity and values.

About the author

Jan O. Jonsson is professor of sociology at the Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, Official Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences (KVA).

Publication date: December 15, 2023

Photo: Taylor Flowe from Unsplash