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Sweden and Denmark: Immigration policies Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 1st, 2019


The following is a research paper that will be written with the objective of investigating into immigration policies that have been developed in Europe. It is aimed at providing a detailed analysis of the existing migration policies and the factors that influence them. Additionally, the paper seeks to look into the details of the laws that govern the immigration policies.

In this case, Sweden and Denmark have been selected as study cases in the issue of immigration due to the fact that the two have had immigration policies over a long period of time, and at the same time, there have been similarities in the immigration policies of the two countries.

On the other hand, despite the two having some relationship in the societal set up, there are some significant differences in the way each country’s immigration policies are weighted and their influences on different agendas. Evidence from research has also put in place some immigration programs that operate distinctly, where some can easily incorporate guest workers, while others cannot. Among the factors established in this paper are; immigration costs, immigration demands as well as the distinct immigration systems.

More over, the paper has provided some information on a brief history of Sweden and Denmark. Furthermore, it has also deemed it imperative to present some statistical information on the migration framework as portrayed by the two countries. Finally, the paper gives a detailed analysis of the immigration patterns that are in existence in Sweden and Denmark, which influence the immigration policies.


Immigration is the process of people moving from a particular location in order to occupy a new habitat due to different causal situations. Immigration policies are termed as a set of guidelines that have been put in place, either by the rulers of the countries that accept immigrants or because of distinct situations arising.

Primarily, immigration from one place to another is influenced by various factors and reasons, which may be positive or negative, pleasing or displeasing etc. The acceptance of the movement of immigrants into or from a country or state is governed by certain laws or regulations to ensure these movements do not tamper with any system of the societal set up.

Every country that allows handling of immigrant’s programmes also has a model of putting into practice the already stated policies to ensure they accomplish the goal for which they have been set. Additionally, a close investigation portrays statistical differences of the ethnic communities that do immigrate to a certain territory (Green-Pedersen 2008).

Over the years, Sweden and Denmark are two majors considered to have identical political, economical, cultural and societal set ups. Despite the pronounced identities, the analytical contributions have spotted some distinctions between the two in relation to their attitudes and positions of the center-right parties on the issues concerning immigration. There have been remarkable differences in structure and political set ups that aid in providing an explanation for the reason behind immigration playing a very essential role in the Swedish and Denmark politics.

A lot of research has been conducted, whose results reveal that the stand that Denmark has taken is tougher as compared to that taken by Sweden, in terms of immigration and integration. More over, even as the two states have political parties, Sweden is portrayed as one who has stood the temptation of the influence by political groups on the issue of immigration while Denmark is one that has been domineered by the political parties, who have long utilized the immigration issue as ground for competition.

The main reason that renders the two important for this kind of a study is because, earlier on, they are seen to have some form of unity in enacting laws governing immigration, but diverge their ideas to operate unitarily. Statistics generally shoe Sweden to have a larger number of immigrants than Denmark, due to the prevailing differences in how the two handle the immigration policies (Keskinen, 2009).

In some cases, the immigration policies are handled as political issues where parties want to compete in enacting them, especially, the New Democracy party in Denmark. The issues that arise after the 1980 between the two states are an indication of the extent to which peace would be abundant in each of the states. There are various patterns that immigration can take, which are herein discussed for the two countries.

The immigration policies also enacted do govern distinct forms of immigration programmes, because of the different reasons as to why people want to become immigrants in a particular country. Immigration policies in Sweden and Denmark have been characterized by various similarities as well as differences, and incorporating different patterns (ALund and Schierup, 1991).

Factors influencing immigration policies

Several factors have been assessed and found liable for influencing the parameters of the immigration policies. Firstly, immigrants demand is one of the key determinants when setting immigration policies. At the same time, demand has been found to be affected profoundly by the receiving country’s demographic as well as fiscal needs.

The demand for the immigrants is more likely driven by existing sentiments as well as political affairs in a given state. Additionally, migration cost act as influential factors in terms of money and separation from the immigrant’s families. On top of that, factors like increased unemployment, low wages and or the living costs in ones residence are also liable to influence immigration in one way or the other.

More over, the location of the receiving and supplying countries matters since for those countries far from each other, additional policies may deem necessary than for nearer states and vice-versa. In addition, distinct countries have distinct systems of immigration that influence the policies. Every arrangement of immigration systems requires a distinct policies combination model, in order that aggregate expenditure levels may have some divergence (Ardittis, et al., 2007).

An analysis of the history of Sweden and Denmark

The history of both Sweden and Denmark is marked by a combination of settlement, political and immigration agendas. Additionally, there have been a lot of similarities in the way the two countries handle their political, social and immigration issues, thus causing some concern that needs a better comprehension. It was in 8000 B.C when the first humans immigrated to Sweden. It was a time when the ice age ended, thus the country was now deemed habitable.

Earlier on, those who were living in Sweden were fishermen and hunters of the Stone Age, mainly residing along the coast. It was at 4000 B.C when farming was introduced to Sweden where the farmers used weapons and stone tools. However, rampant migrations into the country have been continuous over the years, thus causing some great impact in the social-structural and cultural changes (Green-Pedersen, 2008).

Up to date, a large number of people is found to occupy the country with their support if immigration activities, leading to enactment of immigration policies. Sweden and Denmark had formed a consensus for the way to regulate the immigration policies, but since the 1980s when each went its way to regulate its own policies, Sweden has been one of the powers valuing immigrants highly, and thus has experienced a large number of them come into the country over the years.

On the other hand, Denmark has evolved over the time to grow into a major state over the years. It as well initiated as a sparsely occupied place; but with the rampant immigration from different localities in the world, it has become one of the densely populated countries in Europe. As the movement of people increased into Denmark, various social, cultural, cultural, and political structures have significantly changed to take restrictive form (ALund and Schierup, 1991).

A comparison of Immigration policies between Sweden and Denmark


The immigration politics are mainly based upon the political parties that are in operation in the two. They seem to have an identical political set up, but the difference is notable only in the way the parties interact with each other, control and govern the distinct states. Thus, due to the differences in the governance, there as well arise the differences in the policies that govern immigration activities.

Denmark and Sweden happen to bear numerous similarities in the way the society is set up, i.e., cultural, social, economical, and political systems. Such similarities suggest a similarity in the way the political parties would react to societal issues, for instance the ones on immigration and community integration.

First, it is a notable characteristic for them to have been harmonized in a relative manner, on issues concerning different ethnic groups operating in the countries. The similarities to the ethnic compositions are highly rooted to the fact that they had not been colonized by other powers and acted as the more recent initiators of the immigration activities (Brochmann and Hammar, 1999, cited in Money, n.d).

Additionally, the welfare systems of the two countries are identical and extremely developed which aid in generously contributing towards tax benefits. This excellent welfare system is operates on the principle of accessing benefits without the involvement of participation in the labour markets, but embracing the universal relationship. The kind of welfare has seen the immigrants become so dependent mainly on social benefits, and dislike the low participation in the labour market. This has mainly resulted from the high rate of minimum payments, therefore in both, immigration of low skills is very common than of high skills.

In the period 1970s, Sweden and Denmark experienced migration flows consisting primarily of asylum seeking people and others joining their families who had moved in earlier. This kind of immigration was rampant since the two countries had formed a consensus to bring to an end the labour migration due to the influence of the then existing trade unions.

The system that was then used had advocated for similar rights to all employees, who enjoyed these privileges abundantly. Furthermore, both of them advocated for immigration and integration policies, despite the major differences that they had in the political views regarding immigration (Brochmann and Hammar, 1999, cited in Money, n.d).


In this context, we have seen Denmark and Sweden to possess some pronounced similarities in terms of their handling of immigration services, though a set of remarkable differences have emerged since the i980s, when the two developed divergent views. Sweden has been lagging behind as compared to Denmark, since they were only active in contesting about the immigration issue only in 1991.

This had arisen because of the rise to power of the Populist Party, and then the New Democracy party raised the agenda of immigration. They wanted to develop the restrictive immigration policies to regulate the immigration agenda, but the efforts lasted only for a short period. This had picked with a lot of pressure when the New Democracy party suggested that every immigrant to Sweden must have the knowledge to speak in their Swedish language.

The policies then developed had gone underway to bring out a distinction between the political parties. On the other hand, as a result of the rise of numerous political parties, Denmark went on to introduce the same issues concerning immigration, but unlike for Sweden where they became short-lived, Denmark succeeded in applying the policies (Hammar, 2009).

The immigration issue in Denmark has been considered as a tool for utilization in political rallies by the competing forces unlike in Sweden where the issue was abandoned. Sweden has always embarked on pillars meant to govern the issue of immigration, i.e., equality and freedom while such cases do not apply in Denmark.

The main principle has always been centered on the policy of integration and migration, where family unification is embraced in both, though for Denmark, several battles have been fought in the effort to integrate the ethnic communities. Analysis of the two demonstrates a restrictive direction to immigration policies in Denmark, a case that do not apply in Sweden. As a result, Sweden has experienced a lot of success in the recent elections, thus maintaining a lot of peace, while Denmark has failed in such efforts to maintain peace in the state.

Additionally, in contrast to Sweden, Denmark enacted laws that were tight, especially restricting asylum form of immigration, though the idea was divided among the liberals and the conservatives who could not easily get into an agreement. On the other hand, Sweden has been ready to accommodate all types of immigrants, thus the political parties being denied the chance to use the immigration issue as a political agenda, and therefore have avoided the pressure that emanates from such issues (ALund and Schierup 1991).

Over the time, Denmark’s policies implementation concerning immigration have been marked by confrontation directions involving the government and the opposition party, the right-wing, a facto that has hardened the efforts to overcome the challenges to the enactment of appropriate immigration policies(Seeberg, 2009).

How immigration policies work

Immigration policies as viewed in the early years when Denmark and Sweden were in a consensus to operate on similar laws were working accordingly. In order for every kind of a policy to be effectively applied, there has to be a set of rules governing it, whether negative or positive depending on the involved policy makers. In Sweden and Denmark, the policies were meant to operate in an integration policy model, efforts that deemed helpless in the 1980s, when the two took divergent paths.

For Denmark, immigration laws have since then taken a restrictive direction, thus denying the immigrants their equality and freedom. On the other hand, they have worked for Sweden in a non-restrictive direction, where important pillars like equality and freedom are not recognized. Generally, immigration policies for the case of Denmark are kind of forced ones, contrary to Sweden where today, policies are put forward in favor of every person whether a citizen or immigrant (Seeberg, 2009).

Laws governing the immigration policies

Immigration has been a widespread phenomenon over the years, due to the pressure that immigrants face from the factors herein discussed. Movement from one locality to another is allowed by the immigration policies that have been put into place. However, it is very important that certain laws be put into place that governs the movement of people in and out of a state.

Thus, some regulations have been set up in Sweden and Denmark, which control the movement of people as immigrants, either in or out of the states. One, there is a federal law of immigration which governs the immigration.

The law is always considered as a determinant factor on whether an individual is a foreigner, therefore laying down what responsibilities and rights one has in terms of his/her status in the particular society. The laws are as well destined to determine the process that a person should undertake in order to be considered as a citizen to the particular country or state.

The system also determines the route in which immigrants can be given the right to become natural citizens of a particular country. The laws govern in protecting a country’s border as well as regulating the number of immigrants who should leave or enter the country at a given time (Seeberg, 2009).

More over, the Swedish and the Denmark governments have enacted laws that govern every type of immigration that have been allowed into the country. The various types may be, labour immigration, asylum-seeking immigration, study etc. Therefore, every course of immigration has its particular laws that govern it.

For instance, for those who immigrate to the country due to employment, there is a certain period of time that they should work and then renew their work permit identity cards. This is evident from the immigration laws of the Swedish that were updated on December, year 2008. This renewal of laws had the aim of introducing novel parameters so that the employers would find it easy to get laborers from other countries but with fixed agreements that would ensure government involvement.

Also, for the asylum seeking immigrants, the regulations set up have the intention of clearly weighing and evaluating the individuals and prove whether their situations are worthy of consideration. It is true that asylum seekers have distinct reasons for their move, but the laws ensure that those considered have extra-genuine reasons for wanting to be in another country (Hammar, 2009).

Furthermore, there are laws that support deportation in Europe, in that illegal foreigners found within a country at a given time can easily be removed from a country at the time they are spotted. Another factor involves a foreigner found performing something that immigrants have been prohibited from doing in the foreign country.

Additionally, foreigners would become a deport subjects when they fail to concur with change that has been proposed in the country of immigration. In Europe, every immigrant is considered to have equal rights as other citizens regardless of his cause of immigration. Thus, the laws are set up to ensure that all persons are accountable to the government as well as the set laws (Westin, 1993).

Immigration programs

Immigration programmes that exist in Sweden and Denmark were primarily set to allow every form of an immigrant who was deemed to have a genuine reason for re-allocating to the new countries. The programs that are usually practiced in Europe are; work programs, where individuals from other countries can go to work in the countries.

Secondly, immigration policies allow students who want to study in other countries to apply for the same. More over, immigration to Europe was allowed foe asylum-seekers, after a careful evaluation if found worthy to be allowed into the countries. Others include guest workers programs.

.As viewed, Sweden and Denmark operate on distinct grounds today, where Sweden provides permit even to the asylum seekers, but Sweden have formed a criteria which they use to eliminate asylum-seeking people. They have restrictions on w ho should get into the country based on tough qualifications due to the influence of the political parties on the policies.

All programs are opposed to accommodating guest workers, although Sweden can be flexible to sometimes accommodate them. At the same time, the patterns of immigration have demonstrated an increasing trend since the start of the world war in these states, with Sweden receiving the highest numbers than Denmark. Additionally, patterns in Sweden have taken a non-restrictive path while in Denmark have taken a restrictive path (Hammar, 2009).

Statistics on the different ethnic backgrounds coming into the two countries

Statistical information on the immigration statistics portrays Sweden to have a higher population then Sweden, due to the stability immigration policies.

The immigration to both started during the World War II. In Sweden, evidence from research shows people from the following ethnic backgrounds; Refugees from the countries that neighbor it, those who came in search for labour from Finland and southern Europe as well as those seeking for asylum assistance from the Eastern Europe and southeastern parts. Similarly, the same countries have sent immigrants to Denmark, especially with the rise of restrictive rules that saw a large number from the Middle- East come to the country.

However, recent statistics have shown Sweden to have a larger population of the refugees, a figure of 10.9 million, while Denmark has 6.2 million. The difference lies in the fact that Denmark does not mostly accept asylum-seekers due to political pressures from the political parties (Eriksen, 1996).


Evidences place Denmark and Sweden in a similar societal set up in terms of migration, politics, and other few aspects. However, despite the relationship, the development of policies in the migration context in both countries demonstrated significant divergent patterns since 1990s. Pronounced changes have occurred in Denmark, taking a considerably restrictive direction. This has been as a result of rise of political issues that impacted on the immigration issue in a quite significant manner.

There occurred a change in government in 1993, a factor that caused genuine of politics to arise concerning the immigration issues. In Sweden, the governing body has not yet introduced a move to impose a restriction mode in the immigration issues. Sweden and Denmark have had experiences that have portrayed the significance of investigating into the centre-right position, in order to gain a better comprehension of the policies of immigration (Junge, 2009).

More so, this study provides an insight on the fact that, though immigrations are acceptable in all states, it is important that certain regulations be set to control the policies that have been accepted. At the same time, the factors already established have provided an insight on the path that leads to the issue of immigration, ultimately leading to setting up of immigration politics.

For Sweden and Denmark as the study grounds for the immigration policies, it is crucial that the policies be re-investigated again to come up with a comprehensive structure of what they entail, and look forward to improving them to enhance a better environment for the immigrants.

It is as well important to consider the ones that are oppressive with an aim of changing them for a better future of both the immigrants and the states. Nevertheless, the paper has presented ideas that have seen the accomplishment of the objectives of writing it (Westin, 1993).


Alund, A. and Schierup, C.-U. (1991). Paradoxes of Multiculturalism. Essays on Swedish Society. Aldershot: Gowers.

Ardittis, S. et al. (2007). Assessing the costs and impacts of migration policy: an international comparison. Cheshire: Hammersmith Press Publishers.

Eriksen T. (1996). Mechanisms of exclusion and controversies on integration: Notes on the Scandinavian minority situations. Web.

Green-Pedersen, C. (2008). Immigration as apolitical issue in Denmark and Sweden. European journal of political research. Aarhus University press. Web.

Hammar, T. (2009). European Immigration Policy: A Comparative Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Junge, M. (2009). Immigration of qualified labor and the effects of changes in the Danish Migration policy in 2002. The Rockwool Research-foundation unit. Web.

Keskinen, S. (2009). Complying with colonialism: gender, race and ethnicity in the Nordic region. London: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Money, J. Mechanisms of Immigration Control. . CA: University of California. Web.

Seeberg, H. (2009). The politicization and change of immigration policy in the European context. Denmark: University of Aarhus. Web.

Westin, C. (2006). Sweden: Restrictive Immigration Policy and Multiculturalism. International Labor office in Geneva. Web.

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