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Immigration and emigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2021 and projection 2022–2070

Immigration and emigration 1970–2021 and projection 2022–2070


Immigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2021 and projection 2022–2070


Emigration by sex and country of birth 1970–2021 and projection 2022–2070



The number of immigrants has varied from year to year. The significant peaks of labour immigration at the end of the 1960s, refugees from Iran at the end of the 1980s and from Yugoslavia in the beginning of the 1990s can be noted in the diagram. During the 2000s, the number of immigrants has increased and reached an all-time-high in 2016. Since then the immigration has decreased, but it still remains at a historically high level. There are several reasons for this: asylum seekers, returning native-born persons, immigration due to employment and studies, and immigration due to family reunification among both native- and foreign born persons all contribute to the number of immigrants to Sweden. Among refugees and labour migrants, there were more men than women and the majority of family migrants were women. During most years, but not all, there have been slightly higher immigration of foreign born men than of foreign born women. The surplus of men was higher in the middle of the last decade, a consequence of the larger immigration of refugees, but it has decreased since then. The number of immigrated men are expected to be higher than the number of women during the whole projection period.

In 2021, just over 90 000 persons immigrated to Sweden. This was clearly fewer than in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, but somewhat higher than in 2020. The immigration is expected to increase to just over 100 000 per year in the long-term. This is close to the annual average for the first two decades of the 21st century. The assumptions about future migration contain a higher degree of uncertainty, both in the short and in the long term. It is most likely that there will be significant year-to-year variation in the number of immigrants to Sweden in the following years, but it is difficult to predict when these peaks will occur. The level of immigration shown in the projection should be interpreted as an average around which the number of immigrants is expected to fluctuate. It is likely that immigration will continue to be affected by conflicts and political instability in the rest of the world, but immigration to Sweden of these reasons is expected to be lower than during the last decade. In the projection it is also expected that people will continue to move to Sweden for reasons other than conflicts and political instability.

The emigration of persons born in Sweden has seen an increasing trend for some time. Until the beginning of 1990s, about 10 000 Swedish-born persons emigrated every year. The number increased during the 1990s and since the late 1990s around 20 000 Swedish-born persons emigrated every year. However, the number of emigrants has decreased during the last decade. About the same number of Swedish-born men and women emigrated during the last ten years, although the number of men was slightly higher.

The emigration of foreign born persons follows a similar pattern. Until the beginning of the 21st century, there were about as many Swedish-born as foreign born emigrants. Thereafter, the number of foreign born emigrants has increased. This was influenced by the increase of the total foreign born population. Over the years, more foreign born men than foreign born women have emigrated. This trend is expected to continue during the projection period. Different groups have different tendencies to emigrate. Those who have come to Sweden as refugees or due to family ties have stayed in a greater extent, while those who immigrated to Sweden due to work or studies have left the country to a greater extent. The emigration rate has been relatively low during the last few years. This relates in part to a larger immigration of refugees, but the emigration rates has also been relatively low in other groups of foreign born persons. The emigration is expected to increase to the higher levels of emigration previously observed. Emigration is also expected to increase because a smaller share of the immigrants are expected to be refugees in the future, compared to recent years.  

In the short term, this projection can be regarded as a population forecast. In the long term, the projection should be regarded as precisely a projection of the population in the case that current behaviour and trends continue in the future. Furthermore, an assumption is made that regulations that apply today will continue to apply throughout the projection period. Already in the short term, changes in society may mean that projection conditions will change.

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