Sofia Wikman, docent in criminology at the University of Gävle, was recently awarded 4.9 million SEK by Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (Forte) for a three-year study called “What happened in Sweden over the last 40 years?" which focuses on how immigration has affected the developments of crime in Sweden over the last 40 years. Official statistics show that immigrants are over-represented among those suspected of and convicted of crimes, especially violent crime.
In the last few decades, the proportion of immigrants in Sweden has increased rapidly. Despite this fact, several categories of offences show no significant increase. Thus, there is no simple connection between immigration and crime.
With this background, the following hypotheses can be formulated:
- Development of crime in Sweden has been directly affected by immigration and this development would have been more favourable should immigration have been lower. Higher crime rates among immigrants have been added on to those of the rest of the population.
- Development of crime in Sweden has not been directly affected by immigration; instead it has resulted in a substitution between groups in the population, which in turn can be related to social and economic differences.
“Until today, studies on the developments of crime in Sweden focus mainly on the extent and the development rather than on causes, and they tend to be descriptive rather than analytic in nature. More in-depth studies are needed, studies that can provide nuanced and well-supported answers to the questions if, and if so, in what ways, gender, ethnicity and social class are related to crime and can be used to explain it,” Sofia Wikman says.
Participating researchers from the University of Gävle:
My Lilja, Malmö University
Sofia Wikman and Pia Tham were also awarded one grant each to synthesize and develop their research. Sofia Wikman’s research focuses on preventing violence in working life, while Pia Tham focuses on creating a sustainable working life within the social services.
“It is very rewarding that Forte through these grants draws attention to research at the University of Gävle. Two out of five grants to research development went to the University of Gävle,” says Pia Tham, docent in social work at the University of Gävle.