The world's most open country : labour migration to Sweden after the 2008 law
Current themes in IMER research nr 15.
What happens when a state entrusts the power to select labour migrants
to individual employers? This question seems unlikely in a world where
countries tend to increase their efforts to control migration flows. When
it comes to labour migration, for example, there is a trend towards more
selective policies where states try to attract high-skilled migrants while
low-skilled migrants are restricted to temporary migration programs
with less access to rights (Ruhs 2013, De Somer 2012). In general, there
is a trade-off between generous admission policies and the set of rights
labour migrants have. The rights are also often very different for lowand
high-skilled labour migrants (Ruhs 2013). None of these trends
applies to the Swedish case. In fact, the country has done the opposite.
The new law on labour migration that came into force on December 15
in 2008 abolished the labour market test and introduced a non-selective
demand driven labour migration policy where individual employers
were given the power to select migrant workers. Tobias Billström, the
Swedish minister of migration, seldom misses a chance to promote its
design and present it as a role model for other countries to follow. At the
2013 UN Commission on population and development Billström said
that “Sweden now has one of the most flexible and efficient systems for
labour migration in the world”.In this book we want to make a contribution to the research on
labour migration management, while at the same time giving voice
to the high-skilled migrants and their experiences. The Swedish case
provides a great opportunity to study the effects of a policy change.
Firstly, there is a clear policy change in December 15 2008 that affected
all kinds of labour migration from outside the EU/EEA. The labour
market test was abolished and the policy is now one of the most pure
examples of a demand driven labour migration model which is estimated
to be one of the world’s most open (OECD 2011). Secondly, the Swedish
statistical registers allow for a follow-up of the total population of labour migrants, including their position on the labour market.