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The blonde and blue-eyed Swede and immigration Posted by on Mar 31, 2010 in Culture, Swedish Language, Uncategorized, Vocabulary

Blonde hair and blue-eyed Swedes can be found, but less and less in groups.

By now it is of course no surprise to you to hear that all Swedes don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes. Nope, Sweden has been changing. Around 20 percent of the Swedish population has a foreign background. The top three asylum seeking groups over the past twenty years come from Yugoslavia, Iraq and Iran. In 2009, Iraqi immigration to Sweden dropped significantly, while the number of Somalian immigrants increased by 50 percent.

My question (I can’t yet get this answered) iswhether the majority of Swedes had blonde hair and blue eyes before massive waves of immigration or if there were just a lot of people with blonde hair and blue eyes? Does anyone know the answer to this?

Irregardless of my unimportant question, the blondes and the immigrants haven’t really integrated as well as you would have assumed in Sweden, considering the country’s international reputation for equality and openness.

Foreign-born graduates of Swedish Universities have a harder time finding work than their Swedish born counterparts, according to a report from the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees. But you don’t have to look to reports for that; everyone knows how hard it is for people who are born outside of Sweden or with foreign-sounding names to find a job or even an apartment.

And while polls show most Swedes positive to immigration, there has been a growing backlash against immigration in Sweden. A small, nationalist, and anti-immigrant political party called Sweden Democrats could be on the verge of reaching the critical 4 percent of the electorate needed to enter parliament.

If you want, we’ve created a Byki flashcards list on immigration that you can easily download to test yourself on Windows, Mac or .b4u.

Want to see a different world in 1 hour?

Walk around Östermalm, the posh neighborhood in Stockholm, then jump on the blue line of the tunnelbana and head out to Tensta, a largely immigrant suburb. Many Stockholmers have never been to Tensta, and wouldn’t dare to go there. But coming from New Jersey, I found it a bit rundown, but not dangerous as far as I could see. Everything is relative, though, isn’t it?

I do think integration will get better in Sweden, but it will take time, and political will. One thing we can do now –which is lacking in Sweden right now — is to talk about the subject in an open manner without fear of being un-PC or offending anyone.

Any ideas on what you think can be done to improve the lack of integration among different groups in Sweden?

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  1. Emma:

    To answer your question whether Swedes were blond before the immigration started.

    No we were not all blond, but most are blue eyed or green eyed.
    In my family we are six siblings and only two are blond (I’m not one of them) and both my parents have brown hair. But we do have blue or blue/green eyes all of us. And my family are nearly as Swedish as you can get. We don’t have any foreign blood in us from the last generations. I can’t be sure longer back, but I have heard that we have some French long back and we are Skåningar so we probably have some Danish in us as well.