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Seeking asylum—and jobs

Unskilled, unemployed and unhappy

WHEN Ameen first arrived from Aleppo, he was thrilled to have made it to Sweden. Speaking as he takes a break from a protest near parliament, he says he thought there would be plenty of jobs. But none was available. Now that the government has made it harder for family members to join the refugees, some have taken to Stockholm’s cobbled streets. The rules on asylum-seeking in Europe mean refugees like him have to stay in their country of arrival. “If we could leave, many of us would,” he says.

A big reason refugees cause alarm across Europe is the fear that they will steal jobs. But a more serious problem may be their joblessness. France, Germany and Norway all have big employment gaps between native- and foreign-born workers. But the gap is widest in the Netherlands and Sweden—and these figures do not yet include the 163,000 asylum-seekers who arrived in Sweden last year (see chart).

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