Immigration and the Nordic Welfare State


Content, progress and pedagogy of the module

This course addresses the challenges and opportunities that immigration constitutes to the Nordic welfare state. In recent decades, the growth of immigrant groups in Europe has influenced public discussions about social cohesion and welfare state sustainability. Concern with unemployment, socio-economic gaps, ethnic fragmentation of cities, unrest in the streets and perceived illiberal beliefs and cultural practices within immigrant communities have turned into a widespread sense of integration failure.

Immigration has introduced considerable ethno-cultural heterogeneity into the Nordic societies as well as an increase in low-skilled labour. The structural of pressure of immigration is to some extent felt by most Western economies; yet, the Nordic welfare states are particularly vulnerable because of their comparatively strong redistributive schemes and high wages. Some also argue that cultural diversity is especially problematic for the Nordic welfare state, because cultural sameness creates the trust and solidarity that make citizens accept a strong, interventionist state that requires a large portion of the national income to help secure a large work force, employment, and equality.

Throughout the course, we will compare the policy experiences of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The course is divided into three main sections. First, we look at the push and pull mechanisms of migration. Why do individuals choose to migrate and what decides where they want to go? We look at both historical and future migration patterns to the Nordic welfare states. Second, we examine the integration strategies of immigrants and how certain policies may support and motivate or be a barrier to their integration efforts. Third, we will discuss the consequences of increasing ethnic diversity for the economy of the Nordic welfare states and the attitudes of the majority population but also how the Nordic welfare state itself helps to shape the identities, values and welfare state attitudes of immigrants.

Learning objectives


Upon completion of the module, the student will be able to:

  • account for, compare and discuss strengths and weaknesses of selected theories of migration and integration and how the Nordic welfare states differ in their approach to immigration policy.
  • account for and discuss the main challenges and opportunities that immigration constitutes, or is perceived to constitute, to the Nordic welfare states.


Upon completion of the module, the student will be able to:

  • independently formulate a research question on immigration and the Nordic welfare state that relates to the theories, methods, and empirical knowledge within the field.
  • independently choose and apply theories, methods, and data relevant to answer a chosen research question regarding immigration and the Nordic welfare state.

Type of instruction

Lectures combined with exercises.

Extent and expected workload

5 ECTS corresponding to a workload of 140 hours which will be distributed as follows:

Lectures (double)19,5
Studying/preparing for lectures and exam 94,5
Examination20 (48-hour-test




Name of examImmigration and the Nordic Welfare State
Type of exam
Written exam
Assessment7-point grading scale
Type of gradingInternal examination
Criteria of assessmentThe criteria of assessment are stated in the Examination Policies and Procedures

Facts about the module

Danish titleImmigration og den nordiske velfærdsstat
Module codeBAPAS201730
Module typeCourse
Duration1 semester
Language of instructionEnglish
Empty-place SchemeYes
Location of the lectureCampus Aalborg
Responsible for the module


Study BoardStudy Board of Public Administration and Social Studies
DepartmentDepartment of Politics and Society
FacultyThe Faculty of Social Sciences