How do Norwegians feel about American immigrants?

Country Profiles Migration: Data - History - Politics

Bernd Parusel

To person

Dr. Bernd Parusel is a political scientist and migration and asylum expert. He works for the European Migration Network (EMN) at the Swedish Migration Agency and as Research Secretary at the Swedish Delegation for Migration Studies (DELMI) in Stockholm.
Email: [email protected]

Sweden is an immigration country with a multicultural society. The country is actively trying to attract workers from abroad. Instead of following a classic "guest worker policy", Sweden assumed as early as the 1960s that many of the workers would stay, integrate and eventually become Swedish citizens.

Migration before the 20th century

Immigrant women from Galicia in 1910. In the past, Sweden's rulers endorsed immigration and viewed emigration as a loss. (& copy picture-alliance, Mary Evans Picture Library)
Sweden has existed within its present territorial borders since 1905. Before that there was a union with Norway; both countries were ruled by a common king. The year of the dissolution of the Union marked the end of Sweden's decline from the status of a European empire that once controlled large parts of Scandinavia, but also the Baltic, Russia and Germany. There had already been migration movements in the era of great power, whose heyday fell in the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time Sweden was a multilingual, religiously and ethnically heterogeneous empire whose rulers advocated immigration and viewed emigration as a loss. [1]

Immigrants with capital and specialist knowledge were particularly welcome. They contributed to Sweden becoming an important political force in Europe. Seventeen languages ​​were spoken in Sweden during the great power era.

When the great empires Denmark-Norway and Sweden-Finland dissolved in the early 19th century, four national states emerged in Northern Europe that still exist today. In each of the four states, a dominant majority population and a Lutheran state church emerged. Unlike in the great power era, however, a national feeling based on ethnicity developed, each of which referred to its own history and language.

Migration in the 20th Century

During the rapid industrialization process in the early 20th century there were waves of emigration to the even faster growing economies of Denmark and Norway as well as to America. During the First World War, social unrest, political conflicts and espionage activities by the armed forces led the Nordic countries to exercise more strict controls on immigration and emigration, including through visa regulations, the creation of central state immigration authorities and registers of foreigners. Around 1917, the Scandinavian countries took in refugees from the former tsarist empire and organized summer stays for children from the former Habsburg monarchy. During the Second World War, Sweden, which was not directly involved in the war, became a refuge for around 180,000 refugees, mainly from Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark and Germany.

In 1954, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland created a common labor market within the framework of the "Nordic Council". Similar to the later free movement of people in the EU, citizens of Northern European countries have since been able to move freely across internal borders and do not need a work or residence permit if they want to work in a Nordic partner country. Finland later joined the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. At that time Sweden had developed into the leading economic and industrial nation in the north. Migrant workers were actively recruited in the 1960s and early 1970s, initially in the Netherlands, West Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Greece, and later in Yugoslavia and Turkey. Bilateral agreements have been concluded with Italy, Austria and Hungary and the Swedish Employment Agency Arbetsmarknadsstyrelsen set up recruiting offices in Turin, Athens, Belgrade and Ankara. [2] Many migrants also came from Finland, which was then less prosperous than Sweden. Unlike in Germany or the Netherlands, for example, the Swedish government did not pursue a "guest worker policy", but assumed from the start that the immigrant workers would stay, integrate and eventually become Swedish citizens.

In 1972/73 the recruitment of foreign workers was stopped as the economy flagged. However, the migratory movements continued even afterwards. Instead of being recruited workers, immigrants have since come mainly to relatives who are already resident in Sweden or as refugees (e.g. refugees) as part of family reunification. Since joining the European Union in 1995, the principle of free movement of EU citizens has also applied in Sweden. Sweden has also joined the Schengen Agreement, which means that border controls with other contractual partners are no longer necessary. As a result, Sweden no longer carries out controls at its land borders today.

This text is part of the country profile Sweden.