Aging Migrants, Labor Market Transitions and the Welfare State

What is the research program about?

The research program aims to increase our knowledge about the working life of older migrants and how it interacts with the welfare state and other factors. Sweden, like many other countries, has an aging population and at the same time an increasing proportion of foreign-born. These developments bring up questions about a longer working life, income provision, and the financing of welfare systems. As a large proportion of the population is born abroad, differences between immigrants and natives in the labor market and in the take-up of social benefits are also important not only for individuals but for the society and the economy as a whole.

By using register data, the program can study the position and movements of individuals in the Swedish labor market from the 1960s to today. Statistical analyzes make it possible to investigate how individual and work-related factors are linked to the individual’s exit from the labor market and whether these factors can explain differences between groups. By also studying how people from different parts of the world fare and behave in other host countries with different welfare systems and traditions, it is possible to better understand the consequences of different policy options. By using international data, variations between countries and over time can be related to differences between the countries' welfare systems and labor market institutions and to changes in them. To further deepen our understanding of these processes, interviews and surveys with natives and immigrants will be conducted.

Research questions

  • What does the labor market exit patterns among immigrants look like, in which ways do they differ from those among natives native and why?
  • What roles do pension systems, social insurances and other welfare state institutions play in the decisions and opportunities of individuals and families in the labor market and other parts of society?
  • How do conditions, institutions and traditions in the countries of origin relate to actions in the host country and what implications does this have for individuals and communities?

To gain a broader picture and deeper understanding, the program utilizes methods and experiences from various social science disciplines, including economics, political science, and sociology. The program involves researchers from different subject backgrounds and methodological perspectives, who are active in a broader joint research environment in Uppsala.


Principal Investigator: Olof Åslund (Department of Economics)

Period: 1 January 2019–31 December 2024

Finansiering: SEK 17 670 000 from the Swedish Research Council

Research team

Olof Åslund, Visiting professor at Department of Economics, Uppsala University

Axel Cronert, Researcher at Department of Government, Uppsala University

Lisa Laun, Researcher at Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU).

Joakim Palme, Professor at Department of Government, Uppsala University

Pernilla Tunberger, PhD Student at Department of Government, Uppsala University