|December 22nd, 2016||#1|
Sweden needs more immigrants to counter ageing population - employment agency
STOCKHOLM, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Sweden needs more immigrants not fewer to sustain its cradle-to-grave welfare system and care for an ageing population, a senior official at the state employment service told Reuters in an interview.
In 2015, a record 163,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, the highest per capita in Europe, part of an influx of more than a million people who entered the continent fleeing war and poverty.
The pace of migration has worried some Swedes - the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party has seen its support surge - leading the country to introduce tough asylum laws. Applications are expected to drop by around 80 percent this year.
However, without significant immigration, Sweden faces a labour shortage in the coming years, Hakan Gustavsson, head of forecasts at Sweden's Public Employment Agency said.
"The addition to the labour force from abroad has alleviated the shortage we still see," he said. "It has increased economic activity in the country, whatever way you look at it, it has been an asset to have taken in so many born abroad."
"The way forward is not to have less immigration."
With a low birthrate and the proportion of retirees rising, Sweden needs immigration of 64,000 people per year on average to maintain the balance between those who are working and those who are drawing a pension, Gustavsson said.
Sweden's population is expected to surpass 10 million next year, an increase of roughly 800,000 or nearly 9 percent in the last decade. Most
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