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Misum researchers: Corona crisis more critical for immigrants - we need to act

Lin Lerpold and Örjan Sjöberg from Misum point out how the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are increasing inequality in Sweden. "Immigrants are affected to a much higher degree", they say, and stress the need for more far-sighted and comprehensive political measures in order to avoid "a very unsustainable labour market situation" in the long term, with far reaching consequences for integration and societal welfare.

The two researchers have just published a debate article in "Dagens Nyheter" (together with Karl Wennberg and Aliaksei Kazlou from the University of Link√∂ping) about the particularly precarious situation of many immigrants in Sweden right now. "Immigrants are hit the most by the corona crisis", they write, since this population group has a much higher risk of unemployment and is not as embedded in social networks compared to native Swedes.

These unequal labor market conditions and the resulting disadvantages for immigrants have been there before the current crisis of course: They have a higher unempoyment rate in general, and if employed, they work often on a temporary or even hourly basis and thus are very vulnerable to fluctuations in demand. In addition to that, immigrants are three times more likely than native Swedes to be self-employed and drive small businesses, for example in the catering or tourism industry. But, as Lin Lerpold and the other authors point out in the article, the situation will get much worse through the corona crisis and ask for more public attention to precarious employed people.

They acknowledge the support package for small and medium-sized companies, that has been announced by the Swedish government on March 25, as a first step in the right direction, but stress that more measures will be needed, especially with a long-term perspective. The article concludes with stressing the risks of even higher, and potentially persistent unemployment rates among many immigrants and failing to integrate them sufficiently in the society. It would be "economically and socially unsustainable" for Sweden to not react to those specific challenges, as they put it: We have the lack of financial resources and exploiting working conditions on the one hand, and on the other hand the risk of segregation, criminalization and political radicalization. 

 

 

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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