Political Hedgehogs

The Geographical Sorting of Refugees in Sweden

  • Johan Wennström
  • Özge Öner


In sharp contrast to how admitted refugees are being placed in comparable European countries, refugees in Sweden have been disproportionately placed in peripheral and rural areas with high unemployment and rapid native depopulation where the prospects for integration, both socially and economically, are poor. We explore and evaluate some potential reasons for this outcome. Factors such as an intimidating political and intellectual climate in favor of receiving large numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants and the economic support given by the central government to municipalities that accept refugees are not sufficient to understand the actions of rural local governments. Instead, we argue that Tetlock’s fox/hedgehog model of predictive style may provide a useful approach for understanding the seemingly irrational actions of local politicians in rural and peripheral municipalities, and of other policymakers in other similar situations.

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