No. 32




State-Assisted Integration: Refugee Integration Policies in Scandinavian Welfare States: the Swedish and Norwegian Experience

14 December 2015


RiTo No. 32, 2015

  • Marko Valenta

    Department of Social Work and Health Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

  • Nihad Bunar

    Department of Child and Youth Studies, University of Stockholm

This paper sets out to provide an analysis of refugee integration policies in Sweden and Norway, by means of comparative analysis.

There is a particular focus on the ideological foundations of the Swedish and Norwegian refugee integration policies, and the main programmes drawn on by the countries’ authorities in order to integrate refugees. Further, the focus is widened to identify and analyse the changes, disparities and ambiguities in the Swedish and Norwegian refugee integration policies. The paper also seeks to examine how their experience can help in understanding the limitations of extensive state assisted integration measures. It is maintained here that these Scandinavian countries have developed extensive state sponsored integration programmes of a magnitude which is unique in the European context and elsewhere, and that housing and employment assistance are the two major pillars in both Swedish and Norwegian refugee integration policies. The fidings suggest that Sweden and Norway have undergone similar experiences in respect of the challenges and long term outcomes of refugee integration policy-making. Although based on the principle of a strong welfare state, which provides extensive resettlement and integration assistance to refugees, refugee integration policies in Sweden and Norway have not succeeded in equalizing the initial inequalities between refugees and the rest of the population.

Keywords: Refugee integration, housing, employment assistance, Sweden, Norway

MS received January 2010; revised MS received April 2010

Journal of Refugee Studies Vol. 23, No. 4 _ The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

For Permissions, please email: doi:10.1093/jrs/feq028 Advance Access publication 10 September 2010

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Full article in Estonian