Tino Sanandaji is among the last people one would expect to argue that immigrants pose a threat to Sweden’s way of life. An economist at Stockholm’s renowned free-market think tank Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Sanandaji is a member of a Swedish elite that has long defended open borders. And his own life offers a clear example of an immigrant success story: Sanandaji arrived in Sweden from Iran in 1989, with his mother and younger brother, when he was nine years old. With financial assistance from the Swedish government, Sanandaji was able to attend the elite Stockholm School of Economics. From there he moved to the United States, where he earned a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Chicago.
And yet Sanandaji now argues that Sweden should stop taking in people who share his background. “Immigration has meant that Sweden has imported a bunch of social and economic problems that to a degree didn’t exist before,” he tells me, sitting in a modern conference room at his office in the upscale Östermalm neighborhood of Stockholm. “For a number of reasons -- a long period of peace, a homogenous population -- Sweden has had a unique combination of welfare, growth, and equality. That idyll is to a certain degree over.”
Over the past several decades, a stream of people from countries such as Bosnia, Iraq, and Somalia have taken advantage of Sweden’s asylum policies, the most generous in Europe. As a result, this once homogenous
- Full website and iPad access
- Magazine issues
- New! Books from the Foreign Affairs Anthology Series