The Swedish people greatly overestimate the proportion of foreign citizens in Sweden

The average Swede has a good grasp of the proportion of foreign-born people, but a much poorer grasp of the proportion of foreign citizens.

Novus has asked the Swedish people what percentage of the Swedish population they think was born abroad and what percentage are foreign citizens and compared the answers with SCB population statistics.

Statistics Sweden bases its population statistics on information from the Swedish Tax Agency’s population register. The population register is the basic registration of the Swedish population, which is roughly 10.5 million people. This is what is often referred to as the Swedish population.

According to Statistics Norway, approx. 20% were born abroad and approx. 8% are foreign citizens. This means that the majority of those born abroad are now Swedish citizens.

The average Swede has a good idea and believes that 21% of the Swedish population is foreign-born compared to the population statistics from Statistics Norway which show 20%.

When it comes to the proportion of foreign citizens, however, the Swedish people believe that there are significantly more foreign citizens than there actually are. The average Swede believes that 19% are foreign citizens when, according to Statistics Sweden’s population statistics, it is 8%.

The survey was conducted during week 25 – 2023.

See the distribution of the answers below:

As strange as it may sound, there are no statistics on how many in the Swedish population (i.e. among those registered in the population register) speak Swedish, the only information available is in which country you were born or if you are a citizen of another country . In Novus Sweden panel, however, there is information about what language skills you have in several major languages. There is therefore the possibility to e.g. conduct surveys among people with knowledge of the Arabic language.

Contact Novus if you want to know more!


Mikael Ohlsson,

Head of Research at Novus

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