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How are Immigrant Children in Sweden Faring? Mean Income, Affluence and Poverty Since the 1980s

Journal article
Authors Björn Gustafsson
Torun Österberg
Published in Child Indicators Research
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 329-353
ISSN 1874-897X
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Social Work
Pages 329-353
Language en
Keywords Sweden . Immigrants . Poverty. Affluence . Income
Subject categories Economics, Sociology, International Migration and Ethnic Relations


This article presents new research on income-based child indicators for immigrant children from 17 different national backgrounds and children of parents born in Sweden observed during the 3-year periods 1983–85, 1995–97 and 2008–10. This research examines mean household income, representation at the top of the income distribution and relative poverty differ for immigrant children from the corresponding levels among children with native born parents. Most of the analysis is concentrated on the second generation of immigrant children. It is shown that the relative position of immigrant children deteriorated between 1983–85 and 1995–97 when the labour market situation of immigrant parents weakened more than among native born parents. Changes thereafter were more complex. Children born in Sweden to parents from Denmark, Norway or Germany were as likely as children of native born parents to be observed at the top of the income distribution in contrast to children of parents from countries with middle or low human development. Poverty rates among immigrant children were higher among all categories of immigrant children in 2008–10 than among children of native born parents. These cross origin differences in incomebased child indicators can be attributed to the reasons and qualifications parents had when they entered Sweden and the number of years since their immigration. A majority of children living in Sweden that are classified as poor in 2008–10 were immigrant children of various categories.

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