The Swedish asylum system—long one of the most efficient and generous in the world—faced an unprecedented challenge in the fall of 2015. As the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Sweden surged, processing times for asylum applications grew and emergency housing reached capacity. Schools struggled to enroll young newcomers, who made up nearly half of asylum applicants in 2015. The pace of arrivals, coupled with existing housing, teacher, and interpreter shortages, brought this robust system to a crisis point.
Swedish policymakers, the report finds, responded to these pressures in two primary ways. First, they introduced measures aimed at reducing future arrivals, including checkpoints at the border with Denmark and, controversially, lowering the level of benefits and rights offered to protection beneficiaries. The second, longer-term response has been to invest heavily in integration.