What a self defeating, destructive ideology.
Immigration helps explain Sweden’s school trouble
Sweden’s education performance has faltered in the past decades, with scores tumbling in the OECD’s international Pisa survey since the early 2000s. Both the Guardian and the BBC have recently looked into this phenomenon. There’s no shortage of explanations for the poor results, but British enemies of school reform have latched on to one of them: the free schools reform of the early 1990s, which they claim sent the system into chaos.
You’ll notice how the naysayers never give any evidence to back up their claims. This is unsurprising, since there isn’t any to give. On the contrary, research indicates that free schools have to some extent cushioned Sweden’s fall. Free schools are also popular, as displayed by high demand, and enjoy higher satisfaction scores among parents than schools run by local governments. While the design of Sweden’s general school choice system is far from ideal, the pet explanation for the country’s educational decline among the British left simply doesn’t hold water.
Why, then, are Swedish schools struggling? There are many hypotheses floating around, some more plausible than others. Yet there has been no hard evidence for any of them. Until now.
Two weeks ago, I published a paper at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics and an op-ed in the largest Swedish daily about the impact of immigration on Sweden’s Pisa scores. Quite a row followed. Why? Well, it turns out that the change in pupil demographics due to immigration explains almost a third of the average decline between 2000 and 2012: 19 per cent in mathematical literacy, 28 per cent in reading literacy, and 41 per cent in scientific literacy. The effect is especially pronounced in recent years, coinciding with accelerating refugee immigration. Indeed, between 2009 and 2012, 43 per cent of the average Pisa score decline is explained by altered demographics: a full 29 per cent in mathematical literacy, 45 per cent in reading literacy, and 62 per cent in scientific literacy.