Prometheus Bound, by Jacob Jordaens

Prometheus Bound, by Jacob Jordaens

The Future of Sweden

A short while back, we published an article called ‘The Future of Sweden‘. The aim of that article is to show some demographic trends taking place in Sweden. We use some statistics that are known and easily verifiable. We also make predictions for the future, based on assumptions and estimates, as predictions always are. Unfortunately very few organizations study the demographic shift happening in Europe, despite the relevance of demographic changes in a democracy. In case you wonder why demographics are important, please read our article on Why Demographics Matter?

The changes will be coming, they will be significant, and they will be irreversible. Nonetheless, making predictions is difficult. That is why a Twitter user called ”Sweden Fact Check” has provided their feedback on the article. They did this in a burst of tweets, which we will discuss below. If you prefer the summary, scroll down to the bottom to read the main points.

hi. So, a few days ago, I pointed out that this account had been blocked by Voice of Europe because (I guess) I checked their facts a few times. Entirely coincidentally, the same day it happened, they had published an article called The Future of Sweden, submitted by a group called . I followed this group to see if anything interesting surfaced. The article was the usual potluck of stats, sums and soundbites, blending together observations about race and religion with the intention of demonstrating how Sweden is headed for drastic demographic change at some point in the next unspecified number of decades.

Considering a ”Fact Check” is supposed to be neutral, at least in theory, this is a rather obvious sign of their aim. The aim is clearly to discredit our article as the Twitterer has a clear ideological disagreement. But yes, our aim is indeed to demonstrate Sweden is headed for drastic demographic change. So let’s see if this claim is discredited by ‘Fact Check Sweden’.

It started with the by-now common discussion about fertility rates, with this observation:

(the link takes the reader to a page about fertility rates among – specifically – Muslim people in Europe, which only mentions Sweden in passing).

It links the reader to a page with fertility rates for different countries, including Sweden. That it mentions Sweden ”only in passing” in no way discredits the statistics. I have no idea why this would have been a relevant comment to make, but it sets the tone.

It then takes the unusual step of pointing out that the top five groups of people who move to Sweden contain large groups from Poland and Finland, which is normally overlooked, and accompanies it with this old chart from 2015:

Correct. Although in recent years, Poland and Finland are no longer the greatest suppliers of migrants to Sweden. Which we also mentioned in the initial article, but which Fact Check ignores. When you look at demographic shifts over decades, there is no harm in using a table from 2015, a mere three years ago. Saying that the chart is ‘old’ somehow implies that it is therefore irrelevant. Of course, these numbers are still relevant and there are no huge changes from one year to the next on where migrants come from.

It then broadens the discussion to include citizens of international background, using SCB data. There’s also a random discussion about Islam, presumably because most people assume that migration = muslims. Usual Pew data here.

Islam is a rather common topic when discussing immigration, considering the cultural differences and differences in values. I don’t know why Islam should not be discussed when it comes to immigration and demographic shifts. Let’s repeat here that 24% of Sweden already has a foreign-background. Since this is an obvious, yet concerning, fact, it is completely ignored by Fact Check. I suppose admitting when the article is correct, would be too honest?

Then, there’s the crux of the piece – entitled “The Maths.” This section of the article argues that in the space of one generation, the number of children born either to migrants or people of a intl background will exceed the number of “Swedish backgrounds” (I’ll explain the quote marks in a bit) by a couple of thousand. This argument forms the crux of the article. I’ll screengrab and paste that bit here.

I wouldn’t call it the crux of the article. It is the part that predicts the future. The more shocking part might be the current situation, and the overall trends taking place. The future estimate is merely a guess based on current trends, to highlight how unsustainable our current immigration policy is.

The Clovis Institute took the unusual step of reaching out to me and asking me to fact check the piece. Although this felt like checking the lock on the stable door once the horse had bolted – everyone’s favourite Swedish citizen of foreign background, PeterSweden7, had already spread it among his followers –

Sure, we believe in an honest and open discussion.

I agreed to, but first asked the people at the Clovis institute to clear up a couple of things for me. Which they did, in the form of one key assertion. I asked why they hadn’t just checked out the projections – made by statisticians – for the percentage of people from overseas/people from an international background and then the projected birthrates among them, I was given the answer that stats bodies count third generation migrants as Swedish “even if both their parents are Somali” (by which they mean individuals born in Sweden, like their parents, but whose grandparents moved here from Somalia, I guess – that’s the only way to fall into the Swedish background category.) You’re starting to get a feel for the ideology of this piece, I think. Has to be said, the Clovis Institute were helpful and obliging with the answers. and also promised to publish this if it was argued well enough. So, fact check time.

You’re welcome. Considering 24% of Sweden currently has a foreign background already, many of their children would be counted as fully Swedish. So yes, there is a problem in general with the statistics gathered to see longer-term demographic trends. Someone born in Sweden to Muslim parents will probably still be Muslim. An American born to black parents in the United States is still considered African-American. That does not mean that they are bad people. It does not mean they are unwanted. But it also does not mean that they are ethnically Swedish. Let’s be clear, we don’t make a value-judgement on individual people. We do acknowledge that an influx of large groups of people with a different culture, will have an impact on the host society.

I am not sure what ideological ideas are implied in the Tweet. The idea is merely to draw attention to the demographic changes.

1. Birth rate. The Clovis Institute did their sums using a birth rate of 2.1 for people of a migrant background, which is based on an “actual Muslim rate” (sic) of 2.8 and then adjusted down for, I don’t know, people who aren’t Muslims. The problem with this calculation is that it’s incorrect. The fertility rate is lower among both people born overseas, and people of an overseas background, than for people from a Swedish background. This is from SCB’s methodology

The rate of 2.1 is a guess, so it may easily be wrong. Whether it is in fact 1.8 or 2.5 changes little to the final conclusion of the article. The article here, admittedly from ten years ago, shows foreign-born women have more children – with a rate of 2.2. The more recent article here shows that overall foreign-born women and Swedish women have a similar fertility rate. However, it also states that women born outside of Europe have a fertility rate of 2.6. The research done by Pew already showed us that Muslim women in Sweden have a fertility rate of 2.8. The current stream of migrants originates mostly in Islamic countries.

The source quoted by Fact Check discusses the fertility rates for women born in Sweden, with parents with a foreign-background. Those do appear to be slightly below those of Swedish women, or similar to. In the article, the rate of 2.1 was used for foreign-born women. So although Fact Check provides a nice source, it is actually not relevant as it discusses women born in Sweden.

From the sources listed above, it appears a rate of 2.1 for foreign-born women may have been on the low side. No ‘myth busted’ here.

2. Remigration Remigration as a percentage of the overall overseas/overseas background population is low, but it’s still around 30,000 per year in real numbers at present. This, we’ll see, needs to be considered. (Also SCB)

Correct. We did not take into account remigration. Fact Check provided no source beyond the massive database of the SCB website. As we cannot find the actual source in SCB that is being referred to, it is hard to tackle the details. What we do know is that immigration to Sweden is far higher than emigration. Moreover, we consider it highly unlikely that people that arrive to Sweden as refugees would remigrate to their home countries. Far more likely is that any remigration number is boosted by EU-citizens leaving Sweden to return home.

3. The quotation marks I highlighted “Swedish background” earlier because it’s important to consider that the Clovis Institute are considering a generational trend. They want us to think about “people from an overseas background” and, specifically, their children.

That is indeed what demographics are. It is surprising to see this phrased in a way that is supposed to surprise anyone.

There is no consideration at all given to the fact that these children – be they in possession of two Finnish and two Swedish grandparents, or four Syrian grandparents – will have been raised by people born in Sweden. The majority of them will have grown up in Swedish-speaking households. This will only be affected by the next factor 4. Isolation The Clovis Institute assume that people of a Swedish background will have children with other people of a Swedish background. There’s nothing indicating that many will have children with people born overseas or of an international background themselves. Was this too complex to consider?

They are raised by people born in Sweden. That is correct. That does not mean that they embrace Swedish culture. It does not mean they embrace Swedish values. It does not mean they will actually integrate in Sweden in any way. In fact, we all know integration is a problem for Sweden.

Under high immigration, Sweden will be 30% Islamic by 2050. Now, we can say what is the problem? Maybe they would indeed speak Swedish. Yet, should we ignore the obvious cultural changes that will happen in Sweden? The changes when there is a voting bloc forming one-third the population and government elections come around. Whether or not these people speak Swedish, that is rather besides the point here.

It is true that we did not make an assessment on how many people would have a mixed ancestry. As in, some ancestors would be Swedish, while others would be ‘New Swedes’. In the end, we cannot really say what culture those people would embrace. However, people generally identify with what sets them apart. So, a child born to a Mongolian mom and Swedish dad, would still identify with Mongolian culture. In any case, the trends show that overall people marry within their social groups. So although this form of mixing will of course take place, it will likely be limited.

5. Ages of immigrants – and the analysis Essentially, the Clovis Institute have asked us to consider a very strange equation. Rather than going the obvious route of prediction and extrapolation, they’ve asked us to consider a sort of snapshot of a year with a number of kids born AND a number of immigrants arriving to Sweden. Then, they’ve asked us to consider how many children both of these groups will have. They extrapolate some data using incorrect birth rates,

As addressed previously, the birth rates used are not incorrect. Although they are estimates, further analysis showed they were rather accurate.

then they ask us to imagine that the immigrants (30,000 of them) who arrived that year will also reproduce – at a rate of 2.1. No consideration has been given to the fact that: – a significant amount of these people are already in middle age or have had kids by the time they arrive – that a percentage of these people are going to re-migrate every year until the people born in the year they arrived are old enough to start having kids (generally 30+ years) So, – slash the birth rate in your maths, and the number of immigrants who will have kids (due to their ages),

Fact Check here claims that the foreign-born women won’t have that many children, because they would already be middle-aged. Overall migrants, and refugees, are relatively young. So yes, you can say that some migrants will be so old that they won’t have any more children, but is it a significant amount? In the case that they already have children, this will likely inflate migration numbers in the future as part of family reunion.

However, if we look at the facts, what do we see? Already in 2008, 22% of births in Sweden were to foreign-born women. And that was before the migration flows really skyrocketed. Following the trends, this percentage of 22% has only increased since then. And it will continue to increase in the future. None of that changes, even if our estimate is wrong, the trend remains the same.

build in a successive remigration rate to that 30,000 over 30 yrs, factor in the number of “Swedish background” individuals who will have kids with people from an intl. and you’ll have your total.

Again, assuming that refugees will remigrate in large numbers is a dishonest approach. We have seen in multiple countries and in multiple time periods that the newcomers are here to stay. Remigration numbers will consist mostly of those that came from within the EU. Even when their asylum requests are denied, we can see that they stay in Sweden. We have not even addressed the part of illegal immigration in our first article.

 I’m terrible at maths – I’m an editor – but I’m guessing it will be tens of thousands lower than your first estimate. Of course, it won’t make any difference, because you’ve already done it: millions of people will have read your story now,

It is flattering to state that millions of people read the article, thank you for that.

with its bad facts and worse maths, and they’ll believe it because you packaged it so effectively. So maybe you can just pat yourself on the back because you managed to create a bit more worry and paranoia where there really shouldn’t be any, regardless of your calculations.

Whether there is a need to worry or not, depends on your values and desires. Do you want to maintain the Swedish culture and way of life? Then you need to worry. I find it entertaining that you say there is no need to worry, because my numbers are wrong. Would you say if the numbers were correct, that there would be a need to worry? That is what you imply, and it implies that you do not want Swedes to become a minority within their own country.

Because the most important thing about all of this is that you’re presenting children born in what is apparently one of the best countries in the world to have kids in: and, even worse, their children – as part of some kind of sinister “great replacement”

Sweden is a lovely country. Undoubtedly a nice place to grow up in. We would like to keep it that way. You are right, there is a lot at stake here. Interestingly by calling it the ”sinister great replacement”, you are somehow making it sound as if we adhere to some sort of conspiracy theory. We simply show the trends and data, to form an educated guess at what the future of Sweden would look like.

You’re asking people to consider that these children will somehow erode the society of Sweden so much, that you want Swedes to vote against it. So not only do you fudge your facts, and distort your calculations, and deliberately mislead, but you’re also using your own fabricated information to play on peoples’ worries and affect a social change, even asking for donors at the end there. It’s also worth noting that SCB publish stats about this exact topic – projections, extrapolations, immense datasets, via career statisticians – yearly. Rather than analyse this (I understand why Clovis Institute didn’t use the SCB predictions to 2070 as the methodology differs from theirs so much) they did a series of finger-in-the-air calculations using incorrect data and analysis and published it anyway.

The SCB does not distinguish in origin beyond the initial immigrants. Thus, their projections do not give us the detailed overview that we are searching for. We have actually referenced the SCB in the original article, as we used there data where we could. With regards to their future projections, it simply did not answer the question we wanted to answer. It is not that we are avoiding the use of SCB, as in fact we have used them.

Oh! Another fact. A lot of people have kids quite late in life here so revise your two-thirds figure up a bit, thanks.

That doesn’t really change much, as it means they will have fewer kids earlier in life. Overall, their fertility rate is the same.

To Conclude

Now Fact Check makes a couple of fair points. There will be people that integrate into society and embrace Swedish culture and values. They would become indistinguishable from the original Swedes. There will be those remigrate. There will also be those that immigrate illegally and are not included in our estimate. Regardless, we never claimed the estimate was perfect. We gave warnings to its accuracy, as everyone should when making a prediction. Then again, a prediction is by definition based on certain assumptions and guesses. So if you are going to fact-check a prediction, it would be good to do more than attack the accuracy of some of its assumptions.

Still, even though Fact Check makes a few fair concerns, they provide no convincing argument to show that this will significantly impact our predictions. Yes, maybe it will change the timeline by a year, maybe by a decade, maybe even more? At the same time, Sweden could close its borders and push the timeline even further out. On the other hand, the population boom in Africa might cause migration to increase sharply, and pull the timeline forward. That is the problem with predictions.

This has been a long read, so let’s sum up some of our main findings… (If you wish to fact-check the article, it is rather dishonest to ignore the facts named below. They are true. I suppose Sweden Fact Check was well aware of that fact, as they went after the accuracy of certain assumptions instead)

  1. Swedes have a fertility rate of 1.88. That is below the replacement rate of 2.1, and means their population is shrinking
  2. Population growth occurs purely due to migration. And the Swedish population is indeed growing.
  3. In Sweden today, 24% has a foreign-background already.
  4. Muslims and foreign-born women have a higher fertility rate than Swedish women.

What does that mean?

It means that in time if these trends persist, the Swedes will become a smaller and smaller group inside their own country. Fact Check has argued over the timeline that this will happen on, not whether or not this will indeed happen.