Initiative on working life issues and immigration

Olof Åslund is one of the initiators of the newly established Uppsala Immigration Lab.

Olof Åslund is one of the initiators of the newly established Uppsala Immigration Lab.

Uppsala University is taking the initiative on immigration and working life issues in the new Uppsala Immigration Lab research environment.

The research at Uppsala Immigration Lab will address compelling issues regarding immigration and working life, such as the relationship between the needs and skills of the labour market and employees and the structural transformation or socio-economic dimensions of integration.

“There is enormous interest on the part of the community, and especially politicians, in issues like this, and it is natural for us to take the initiative since we have a strong research environment regarding both immigration and working life issues at Uppsala University and at the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU),” says Olof Åslund, Director-General of IFAU and one of the initiators of the Uppsala Immigration Lab.

The new initiative is being called a lab in part because it aims to try out new working modes for collaboration among researchers.

“We want to try new ways of working as researchers to see if we can increase the quality or quantity of research.”

Olof Åslund cites an example:
“Traditionally researchers have meetings and think we have decided who will do what and when it will be completed. But often it is not completed on time, and we don’t really know why. So we are going to try to find ways to organise work in a more efficient and predictable way.”

Experiences of immigrants

One research project that will be included in Uppsala Immigration Lab is “Benefits for immigrants from the Swedish working experience”, with research funding from the Swedish Research Council.

“A lot of research has been done on the establishment of immigrants in the labour market, but we do not know much about the benefits they receive from their actual working experience or the situation when the immigrants are retiring.”

The researchers will assess how we make use of the immigrants’ experiences in working life, what economic benefits immigrants receive in return and how this has evolved over a period of time.

“A research question we will consider is the contacts immigrants need to make to establish themselves in the labour market.”

Other research questions include how various groups differ from one another, when they retire, what percentages receive a disability or sickness pension, what pension level they attain, whether they remain in Sweden after retiring and so on.

“Basically this involves studying what it means to live in a country with a mixed population, how this affects political circumstances and what needs to be considered socio-economically, but also for individuals.”

The research environment “Technological Development and the Future Labour Market” led by Oskar Nordström Skans, professor of economics, is also an example of research projects associated with the Uppsala Immigration Lab.

Funding from various sources

From an organisation standpoint, Uppsala Immigration Lab will be part of the Uppsala Center for Labor Studies at the Department of Economics. The initiative is being funded for five years, with SEK 10 million from the Uppsala University Vice-Chancellor and SEK 5 million each from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Department of Economics.

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Uppsala Center for Labor Studies

Anders Berndt

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