Using previous research and data from DEMIG (Determinants of International Migration) for the years 1980-2023, this Policy Brief examines how Swedish migration policy has been shaped during these years. It looks at what decisions have been made, whether they have been more or less restrictive, how they have been made, and how the actors and arenas of decision making have changed over time.

Some overall conclusions and recommendations

  • There are several logics at play that affect migration policies, to understand how decisions are made they need to be understood and examined.
  • Two shifts are highlighted in this Policy Brief. The first shift is identified in the early 1990’s, when migration policies became more politicized and the forms of decision-making changed. The second shift is in the mid-2010’s, with a more restrictive migration policy, especially compared to the period 2005-2009.
  • Decision-makers in the field of migration policy are increasingly using the whole-of-government-approach. This involves linking policies across sectors, such as different ministries and agencies, in order to achieve the desired results.
  • In the future, an increased Europeanisation, i.e., more decisions being taken at EU level, will influence how Swedish migration policy is shaped.


Henrik Malm Lindberg is Associate Professor of Economic History and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Economic History at Uppsala University. He has worked mainly on labour market issues, wage formation, education and political history. Previously, Henrik Malm Lindberg has worked at The Ratio Institute, and as a lecturer at Uppsala, Stockholm and Dalarna Universities. Henrik Malm Lindberg is currently deputy head of Delmi’s secretariat.