Centre for Economic Demography

Lund University School of Economics and Management

Immigrant Integration: significant results since 2006

Overall, our research into economic integration shows that immigrants have difficulties entering the labour market, measured as finding employment, while the discrepancy vis a vis natives is much smaller in terms of earnings. Field experiments, conducted within the correspondence testing methodology, show that ethnic discrimination is prevalent in the hiring situation of firms. Extensions of this methodology to measure employer attitudes show prejudice to be responsible for such discrimination (Carlsson & Rooth 2007; Rooth 2010).

Additionally, we find that, once cognitive ability is controlled for, the earnings of second-generation immigrants are roughly equivalent to those of similar natives (Nordin & Rooth 2009). Also, the return to education for first-generation immigrants is remarkably similar to that for natives, again indicating that ethnic discrimination is only prevalent in the first stage of the employment process (Nordin 2011). Our research also shows that Swedish language skills are an important component for closing the ethnic skill gap (Rooth & Saarela 2007a). This holds for earning outcomes as well as social mobility (Helgertz 2010).

The focus of our research on demographic integration has been on fertility, intermarriage and return migration. (The research analysing fertility and intermarriage is discussed under Research Area Family, Fertility and Gender).

Internal migration and return migration are important aspects of immigrant integration. Upon arrival the new immigrant is less informed about the best labour market to settle down in, given his/her skills, and therefore might choose to migrate once or several times when new information about other localities arrives. Migrants are also drawn from a selected group of individuals in the home country. Rooth and Saarela (2007b) examined the determinants of migration from Finland to Sweden and the subsequent return migration from Sweden to Finland, using the unique data available in the FinSwed Immigration Database. Striking results were that Finnish migrants were negatively selected relative to Finnish stayers, and that those among them who then chose to return were positively selected.

Our research into health integration has covered both differences in mortality and in more general health outcomes. Mortality from cardiovascular diseases is higher among immigrants than among native Swedes; in particular among immigrants from Finland and Eastern Europe. It is not clear whether the high mortality persists from the country of birth or is a result of migration.


Helgertz J. (2010) "Immigrant Careers - Why country of origin Matters." Lund Studies in Economic History, 53.

Rooth DO. (2010) "Automatic associations and discrimation in hiring: Real world evidence." Labour Economics, 17, 523-534.

Nordin M, Rooth DO. (2009) "The Ethnic Employment and income gap in Sweden: Is skill or Labor Market Discrimination the Explanation?" Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 111(3), 487-510.

Carlsson M, Rooth DO. (2007) "Evidence from Ethnic Discrimination in the Swedish Labour Market Using Experimental Data." Labour Economics , 14, 716-729.

Rooth DO, Saarela J. (2007a) "Native language and immigrant labour market outcomes: an alternative approach to measuring the returns to language skills." Journal of International Migration and Integration, 8(2), 207-221.

Rooth DO, Saarela J. (2007b) "Selection in Migration and return-migration: evidence from micro-data." Economic Letters, 94(1), 90-95.