Return Migration from Sweden 1968-1996. A Longitudinal Analysis

University dissertation from Almqvist & Wiksell International

Abstract: This book deals with return migration from Sweden in the period 1968-1996 to Chile, Germany, Greece, Iran, Poland, Turkey, United States and Yugoslavia, against the background of economic and political developments in Sweden and in the different source countries. An important question in the study regards whether return migrants deviate from other immigrants in terms of human capital characteristics and economic integration. The study also provides an overview of how return migration from Sweden has developed over the period of investigation, in the light of changing patterns of immigration and deteriorating opportunities for immigrants on the Swedish labor market. Using longitudinal micro level data, the study provides a detailed analysis of the immigrants’ migratory behavior. The results show that return migration to a large extent is determined by economic factors, such as individual income performance and the economic circumstances in the home country relative to Sweden. Return migrants among the cohorts of labor migrants from southern Europe were on average less positively selected than return migrants from high-income countries like Germany and the United States. Refugee immigrants returning to Chile, Iran and Poland were also positively selected in terms of income, although these immigrant groups had a very weak representation among high-income categories in Sweden. Return migration rates were higher among Americans, Germans and Greeks, than among the other nationalities. The employment situation in Sweden was also shown to be an important determinant. An increase in the Swedish unemployment rate generally increased return migration significantly. The deteriorated labor market situation for immigrants after the 1960s has led to an increase in return migration by highly skilled migrants, but not increased return migration in general. An important conclusion is that economic marginalization does not explain return migration. Regarding refugee immigrants, the decision to return does not only depend on the political situation in the home country; it is also highly dependent on economic circumstances. Different economic opportunities in Poland and Chile after democratization in 1990 explain why Chileans display a much higher probability of return migration than Poles do in the 1990s.

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