The Local, December 2, 2011
Two thirds of the people in Sweden relying long term on social benefits have a foreign background, while child poverty in the same group is becoming more and more serious, according to new reports.
“It is a real problem that poverty in Sweden has taken on an ethnic dimension,” said Björn Halleröd, sociology professor at Gothenburg university, to dail Dagens Nyheter (DN).
The report published in the paper revealed that 67 percent of those on long term benefits were born overseas, with unemployment being the main cause.
Using statistics from 2010, of the 117, 000 people on long term benefits, (defined in this case as over 10 months), 78,000 were from foreign countries.
Meanwhile the charity Save the Children has also flagged the problem of child poverty in Sweden.
In a recent survey carried out by the organisation, child poverty is markedly over-represented among those from a foreign background whose parents are unemployed.
To address the problem at government level, minister Maria Larsson is responsible for the welfare of children and the aged.
“It is a great failure of our society that it takes so long for so many people to get a job and an income. It must be frustrating for our new Swedes that it takes so long. It is a poor utilization of human resources,” she said.
“It is difficult when the foreign-born people lack basic education,” she added.
“But how we welcome newcomers to Sweden and treat them, our attitudes and prejudices when a foreign-sounding name comes up, our ability to effectively educate and introduce them to the language, is also crucial.”
Larsson promised that the government will continue their efforts to ensure that people get into work or study.
“The government will also review the income support system, so that there is not an immediate reduction in social benefits when a person starts to receive an income,” said Larsson.