Refugees and family migrants at risk of being particularly affected by the corona crisis

A large number of newly arrived immigrants work in the sectors most affected by the coronavirus. For example, almost every fourth man arriving as a refugee or as a family migrant gets his first job in the hotel and restaurant sector. In a new SNS report, economist Pernilla Andersson Joona studies what has happened to refugees and family reunification immigrants arriving in Sweden since the middle of the 2000s.

Pernilla Andersson Joona, associate professor at Stockholm University, shows that in this group of immigrants, there are major differences between men and women in terms of getting established in the Swedish labour market. In the report, she studies which measures participants take part in during their time in the establishment programme and what their entry into the labour market looks like. Hotels and restaurants are the most common industries for men entering the labour market. However, many later switch sector and after having lived in Sweden for about ten years, a large portion instead works in the transportation sector.

»This means that the effects of the corona crisis may complicate the situation for newly-arrived men in the labour market to an even greater extent. In addition, many of them also have weak ties to the labour market as well as insecure employment terms, or they are self-employed, says Pernilla Andersson Joona, associate professor in economics at SOFI, Stockholm University.«

The situation for women looks different. Approximately 20 percent of employed women work in open social activities, such as homecare services, personal assistance and daytime activities for the elderly. To a greater extent than men, women tend to stay in the sector where they first started working when arriving in Sweden. For both men and women, however, primarily those with a lower level of education tend to remain in their initial sector.

There are also notable differences between men and women during their time in the establishment programme. Significantly more men take part in activities that are correlated with a higher probability of getting a job, such as labour market training, internships or subsidised employment. Women, on the other hand, to a greater extent participate in, for example, social and health-promoting activities. Furthermore, women frequently postpone participating in the establishment programme, primarily as a result of parental leave. If the government wants to accelerate the integration of women in particular, it needs to analyse what can be done to ensure that women to a greater extent participate in activities more closely related to the labour market.

»The government has presented a number of different emergency packages to minimise the effect of the corona crisis on the labour market. It is important not to forget the group of newly arrived immigrants in this context, as this was a vulnerable group already before this crisis, says Pernilla Andersson Joona.«

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


Pernilla Andersson Joona, associate professor in economics at SOFI, Stockholm University.