A longitudinal approach to social exclusion in Sweden

University dissertation from Umeå : Sociologi

Abstract: This thesis consists of four papers, and has as its central theme the accumulation of welfare problems and social exclusion. We use Swedish data and all analyses are based on individuals of working age. We perform longitudinal analyses to scrutinize the accumulation of disadvantages over the individual life courses as well as to detect the general trends in social exclusion occurrence in Swedish society during the past two decades.In Paper I, in an analysis of social exclusion among immigrants in Sweden, we find that immigrants suffer more often from social exclusion than native Swedes do. We also find that even if the accumulation of welfare problems is more common among immigrants than native Swedes, the connections between welfare disadvantages are stronger among Swedes. Furthermore, a logistic regression analysis revealed that time spent in Sweden decreases the risk of social exclusion among immigrants. However, even though we control for several demographic variables, human capital indicators and socio-economic class, the odds for social exclusion are still greater for immigrants than for native Swedes. Some form of discrimination can therefore not be excluded.Paper II is co-written with Björn Halleröd. This paper involves a longitudinal analysis of the accumulation of closely related welfare disadvantages, showing that the initial deprivation increases over time. Latent growth curve models reveal that a high initial deprivation is related to low socio-economic class and being single. It is also shown that a high initial deprivation decreases the probability of upward class-mobility as well as the probability of deprived singles becoming cohabiting. Moreover, a high initial deprivation increases the risk that couples will experience a household break-up.In Paper III, we perform a longitudinal analysis of social exclusion in Sweden during the period 1979-2003, in which several logistic regression models for panel data are fitted to our data. We find no support that immigrants have been better integrated into Swedish society over time from the perspective of social exclusion risk. Instead, there are weak signs that integration has become worse. We also find weak signs that the higher social exclusion risk that men have relative to women has decreased during the past two decades. Furthermore, comparing with couples without children, the odds for social exclusion among singles with children have increased and the odds for couples with children have decreased during the period 1979-2003.Paper IV utilizes latent class factor models to scrutinize the connections between welfare problems and a set of demographic variables, human capital indicators and socio-economic class. We find that welfare problems do cluster. Our results also support several of the findings in the previous paper. Family type, especially being single or living in a relationship, makes a clear difference in the propensity to accumulate welfare problems. Furthermore, immigrants characterize the factors with a high problem accumulation. Additionally, there is no general difference between the sexes in the problem accumulation itself, but experiences of threat or violence and having sleeping problems seem to be more often related to being a woman, whereas the lack of a close friend is most often related to being a man.To conclude, this thesis reveals several interesting facts concerning the accumulation of welfare problems and social exclusion in Sweden. Considering the implications for policy, the situations of immigrants and single parents need to be underlined. That is, the integration of immigrants should be given more emphasis and measures should be taken to support single parents as well as to promote a discussion on how to make relationships last.