The focus of the study is on a number of experiences before and after arrival in Sweden: justice in the Swedish Migration Board's handling of asylum cases; housing and the financial situation; the waiting and uncertainty during the asylum process; the decision to grant a residence permit or not; the memory of the journey to Sweden and the feeling of homesickness. The study maps how the asylum seekers react to the experiences and analyses how these affect the asylum seekers' assessment of their life situation (satisfaction with life) and trust in other people and the Swedish intuitions. 

Results and conclusions

  • Asylum seekers' perceptions of fairness in management differ. In the sample, there are just as many who regard the handling as fair, unfair or as neither fair nor unfair.
  • The study was able to document that the asylum seekers as a group are dissatisfied with their life situation; the proportion of asylum seekers in the sample who say they are very or fairly dissatisfied with their lives is many times higher than among people in other contexts. In addition to the situation itself, dissatisfaction is linked to, among other things, suspicion of how fairly the authorities handle the asylum application process and dissatisfaction with housing and the financial situation.
  • The results show that trust in other people increases on arrival in Sweden. The level of trust then seems to decline during the time as an asylum seeker but increases again among those who are granted a residence permit. However, trust does not reach the initial level from the first period after arrival.
  • Overall, the study both confirms and nuances common perceptions about the experience of seeking asylum. A basic assumption that asylum seekers are agents that have the ability to act in order to organize life in the best way, seems to be more apt than to start from the stereotypical perception of the "traumatized refugee" as a passive victim of the circumstances.

About the authors

The report, Asylum seekers' meeting with Sweden (2018:8), is written by Peter Esaiasson, Professor of Political Science, and Jacob Sohlberg, Phil. in political science, both active at Gothenburg University.

Picture by Ben Wicks from Unsplash.