Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1266: Political Hedgehogs: The Geographical Sorting of Refugees in Sweden

Johan Wennström () and Özge Öner ()
Additional contact information
Johan Wennström: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Özge Öner: University of Cambridge, Department of Land Economy, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This study shows that in Sweden, contrary to other European countries, refugees have been disproportionately placed in peripheral and rural areas with high unemployment and rapid native depopulation where the prospects for integration, both socially and economically, are poor. We explore and evaluate some potential reasons for this outcome. Factors such as an intimidating political and intellectual climate in favor of receiving large numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants and the economic support given by the central government to municipalities that accept refugees are not sufficient to understand the actions of rural local governments. Instead, we argue that Tetlock’s seminal work on “expert political judgment” may provide a useful approach for understanding the seemingly irrational actions of local politicians in rural and peripheral municipalities.​

Keywords: Hedgehog/fox metaphor; Immigration; Political judgment; Rational choice; Social capital; Urbanization

JEL-codes: J15; J61; O15; R58

38 pages, First version: February 26, 2019. Revised: March 27, 2020.

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