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Sweden, immigration and remittances

Photo by Linus Mimietz via Unsplash

In 2009, a report was published by think-tank Global Utmaning (Global Challenge) concerning remittances send by immigrants and migrants in Sweden to other parts of the world. The report “Remitteringar från Sverige” (Remittances from Sweden) was written by Lisa Pelling, today working at progressive and left-liberal magazine Dagens Arena (Today’s Arena).

Pelling’s starting point was that during the 2000s, there was a lack of knowledge and information about remittances from Sweden and that the lack of knowledge and information was also a problem for Sweden’s government to conduct surveys on the given topic. 

Pelling stated that the lack of statistics and knowledge about Sweden’s remittances would lead to serious consequences because Sweden is praising itself as one of the world’s largest development aid donors and because the Swedish government was aspiring to increase the development effect of remittances from Sweden. 

When the report was published in 2009, according to OECD, the total amount of remittances in the world was around 305 billion dollars in 2008. Increased global migration since the 1990s also led to more research about remittances in academic institutions. According to Pelling, with the exemption of four papers by university students, no research about Sweden’s remittances was published since 1979. 

From the report

One study based on  World Bank “Global Development Finance” statistics concluded that the number of immigrants in the Swedish population had a positive impact on how much money was transacted outside of Sweden. Another conclusion was that the flows of money sent from Sweden seemed to follow the economic cycle. According to the World Bank statistics in 2008, where Sweden reported the latest statistics in 2002, the remittances from Sweden were around 590 million dollars and approximately 560 USD per “foreign-born” individual statistically seen. 

Other conclusions that are mentioned in the report were that low-income and low-educated earners were sending remittances more often than high-income and high-educated earners. And also that women were sending remittances more often than men. 

Sum of remittances by year in US dollars (millions) – Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden.

These behaviours were explained by, for example, analysis showing that high-educated and high-income earning immigrants as in Sweden tended to have a history of growing up in families with “wealthy” economic status while low-income earning immigrants more often had a historical background in “poor” families.

Pelling stated that it was necessary and interesting to do more research about remittances also because immigrants in Sweden were overrepresented in low-income earners statistics. Pelling also asked questions as “are remittances obstructing  integration?” and “what would it mean for peoples’ living standards if the transaction cost  was lowered by half, as other countries have successfully done?” 

Pelling finalised her report by writing about remittances’ development påotential by stating that remittance provides a limited but substantial benefit for poverty reduction. At the same time, remittances are not a comprehended solution since all countries need a functional rule-of-law system and because remittances cannot replace educational and health-care systems. 

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