Pathways and destinations : Spatial mobility and socioeconomic integration of international migrants in Sweden

Sammanfattning: Over the last three decades, Sweden has received large inflows of international migrants and particularly refugees. The issues of migrants’ residential patterns and socioeconomic integration are therefore of great interest. A long-lasting concern is that residential segregation hampers migrants’ social and economic outcomes. This thesis examines the spatial and socioeconomic pathways of international migrants in Sweden, based on quantitative analyses using Swedish longitudinal individual-level register data. It aims to describe, explain and interpret migrants’ patterns of spatial mobility, as well as the complex interactions between spatial pathways and socioeconomic integration. Consisting of an overarching introduction and four scientific articles, the dissertation makes two main contributions to the literature. First, by applying statistical methods for longitudinal data analysis, it draws attention to the timing, duration and order of different residential states. Second, it departs from the traditional focus on neighbourhoods in the academic debate to emphasise the regional scale in the nexus between migrants’ spatial pathways and integration.  Paper I investigates the extent to which migrants move away from distressed immigrant-dense neighbourhoods in the Swedish cities of Stockholm and Malmö, as well as the timing of that mobility. Applying discrete-time event history analysis, it reveals considerable differences in the residential mobility patterns between migrant groups and between the two cities. It also finds that newly-arrived migrants are more likely to move away from distressed areas compared to long-established migrants.Paper II uses sequence analysis to provide a comprehensive description of the residential trajectories of international migrants in Sweden across neighbourhoods with different poverty levels. The results show that the vast majority of migrants consistently reside in the same type of neighbourhood, and over half remain in a deprived area over a long period of time. In contrast, trajectories of upward neighbourhood upgrading are relatively rare. Paper III explores the regional distribution and inter-regional mobility among two cohorts of refugees in Sweden, using both sequence analysis and event history analysis techniques. The study finds that most refugees consistently reside in the same type of region. A significant proportion of refugees who were assigned housing by the authorities in large city or small city/rural regions remain in the same type of region over a long period, suggesting that refugee settlement policies have long-lasting consequences.Paper IV examines the significance of the regional and neighbourhood contexts for refugees’ entry into employment. It reveals a clear pattern where the most advantageous regions for finding a first employment are those at the extremes of the population density distribution: the Stockholm region and small city/rural regions. The paper also suggests possible mechanisms behind these trends.A central finding of the thesis is that stability is a key feature of migrants’ trajectories across neighbourhoods and regions with different demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. The results cast doubt on the validity of the theory of spatial assimilation in the case of Sweden and show that the relationship between spatial mobility and socioeconomic integration is neither automatic nor unidirectional.