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What do immigrants know about Sweden?

Trying to locate Sweden on a world map. A somali woman at the the Office of Integration in Filipstad, Sweden. Photo: Anna Tärnhuvud

The populations of the Nordic countries have a far higher level of trust than many other populations in the world. But what happens to migrants’ trust when they reach the Nordic countries? Due to the link between trust and education, the issue of knowledge plays a central role, writes Bi Puranen, researcher at the Institute for Future Studies. Puranen has studied migrants’ knowledge of Sweden both through surveys and interviews. The results indicate that the level of education among migrants who have arrived relatively recently has been overestimated.

Av Bi Puranen | 24 september 2020
Eventuella åsikter och slutsatser i texten är skribentens egna.
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I korthet
The World Values Survey (WVS) is an ongoing social science research project with the aim to explore values within different cultures. The WVS has conducted studies in more than a hundred countries, whose populations are representative of 90 percent of the world’s inhabitants. The question of trust has been of primary focus in the research.

Since 1981, the World Values Survey has posed a key question to more than 600,000 people: “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you need to be very careful in dealing with people?”


Figure 1. General trust over time. Source: World Values Survey 1981–2020

As Figure 1 shows, the Nordic countries have a far higher level of trust than other countries in the Western world as well as in the world as a whole. Over the past 40 years, an average of 61 percent of the Nordic respondents have answered that “most people can be trusted”. The corresponding figure for the world is 28 percent. A s

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