Migrants in the Scandinavian Welfare State
During the 1990s and more so after the turn of the century, the authorities and the public in Scandinavia have become increasingly concerned about the pressure on welfare inflicted by the immigration of people with low skill levels from countries in the South. A large proportion of these newcomers have proven difficult to integrate in the Scandinavian labour market, which is characterised by high demands for skills and a compressed wage structure that makes low-skilled labour comparatively expensive. The universalistic welfare approach, implying a generous inclusion of legal newcomers from day one, in combination with the highly regulated and knowledge-intensive labour market has made the three states, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, particularly exposed to disincentive challenges as concerns the absorption of immigrants in gainful work. This article discusses the current development in the immigration/welfare nexus in the Scandinavian region.