Conflicting objectives in integration policies related to housing and work

There needs to be better coordination between the government’s labour market policies and the fact that municipalities are responsible for housing newly arrived immigrants. This is concluded by three researchers in a new SNS report launched today.

This report, written by Emma Holmqvist, Vedran Omanović and Susanne Urban, combines previous research on organising immigration, housing and work. A crucial conclusion is that the current system contains conflicting objectives with regard to integration in the labour market and integration in the housing market.

“Integration is not solely dependent on a single aspect. It is a process where different parts of society interact. Actors with influence over one aspect of integration also need to consider how other aspects are affected. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case, which may have negative consequences with regard to integration”, says Susanne Urban, associate professor of sociology and senior lecturer at Uppsala University.

Since 2010, the state has been responsible for matching newly arrived immigrants with jobs, while the municipalities are responsible for housing immigrants who have received a residence permit. At the same time, there is a housing shortage in 83 percent of Swedish municipalities, which makes it difficult for newly arrived immigrants to move to locations where there are available jobs. The authors argue that integration in the housing market is based upon a different logic compared to integration in the labour market.

“In order to solve the housing issue and reduce housing segregation, there is a desire to place newly arrived immigrants in municipalities outside the metropolitan areas. However, in order to get a job and get established in the labour market, these immigrants tend to move to the metropolitan areas”, says Emma Holmqvist, PhD in human geography and researcher at Uppsala University.

Metropolitan areas frequently experience a concentration of newly arrived immigrants in so-called disadvantaged residential areas, as these individuals have a hard time gaining access to housing in other parts of the cities. At the same time, previous studies show the negative effects of living in resource-poor areas.

“If people are to get established and included in the labour market in all of Sweden, they also need to be able to live in all of Sweden. This, however, requires a perspective on integration highlighting the fact that the spheres of housing and work interact with one another”, says Vedran Omanović, PhD in business administration and senior lecturer at School of Business, Economics and Law at Gothenburg University.

The authors believe that a more active mobilisation and involvement of several different actors collaborating with each other – state, municipality, employers, new and established residents – is required to take the integration processes forward.

This report is published within the framework of the SNS research project Learnings from Integration.


Emma Holmqvist, Ph.D. in Human Geography and researcher at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala university

Vedran Omanović, Ph.D. in Business Administration, senior lecturer and researcher at School of Business, Economics and Law at Gothenburg University

Susanne Urban, associate professor in Sociology and senior lecturer at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala university

Download a summary of the report Organizing Integration in the Labor and Housing Markets.