An emerging population imbalance in Sweden:
There is something odd going on with the ratio between boys and girls in Sweden. The latest estimates suggest there are 123 boys for every 100 girls among 16 and 17-year-olds. That’s an even greater imbalance than in the same age group in China.
So what’s going on:
Sweden has received more asylum applications per capita than any other country in Europe – 163,000 last year. The country’s population is just 9.7 million.
What is surprising is that if you look at the breakdown of the ages of applicants in Sweden, there’s a huge bump in the figures at the age of 16 – often unaccompanied minors arriving without a parent or guardian.
And 92% of unaccompanied minors aged 16 and 17 years old are male. So why is this?
“If you’re underage, first of all, you get housing, you get more financial resources. You also have a lot of staff around you helping you with different issues,” says Hanif Bali, a member of the opposition Moderate Party in the Swedish parliament – which is on the centre right of the political spectrum. “If you need food, clothing, everything, you can go to the municipality and demand this money.”
But there is another even bigger benefit, which Bali believes is significant. “You have the right to family reunification. So you can bring all of your family to Sweden, if you are underage.”
So there are huge incentives for getting to Sweden before you turn 18. This might explain why many young people make the journey at this point in their lives.
And what’s done to verify the age of male asylum seekers?
“We don’t check for age so we can’t prove that,” says Bali.
“But in Nordic [countries]… a very big amount of those who are tested do not have the correct age. Some friends of mine, who have taken care of these unaccompanied refugees, are saying, ‘We took care of one kid, and we found out he was about 28 years old.'”
There’s such a thing as being too nice.