Can facts and figures help calm down the emotions around migration issues and bring about a more factual debate? Joakim Palme believes that. He is a Professor of political science at Uppsala University and one of the leading researchers in the Mistra Geopolitics programme.
Are you interested in migration and development? Mistra Geopolitics is co-hosting a seminar on 29 November in Stockholm.
Joakim Palme’s current research interest coincides with one of the major challenges for Sweden and Europe: How do we handle refugee flows in Europe? The question is complex and sensitive. Not least when individual life-ravages collide with overall positions in politics. Here, Joakim Palme believes that research has an important role to play.
“Researchers can illustrate the consequences of political decisions in a way that – hopefully – becomes useful to decision makers who otherwise might end up in locked positions,” he says, continuing with a concrete example.
“Today, there is a lively debate on immigration and asylum laws. This also applies to questions about residence permits in general. Here, research can contribute with systematic analysis and help us to learn from history.”
Sometimes, Joakim Palme points out, the results are surprising. “More restrictive rules on residence permits, may for instance result in fewer individuals going back to their countries of origin, in fear of not being able to return if they would need or want. ”
Sweden, as a small country, is deeply dependent on what happens around the world. A clear reminder of this we received in 2015, when nearly 35,000 single children came to our country – compared to the 80,000 who came to the EU. Palme continues:
“Although we must assume that our politicians have the best intentions in mind, the consequences of their decisions can be difficult to handle. The unaccompanied refugee children is an example. Obviously, Sweden has a reputation of a good country for children to grow up in. Otherwise, the families had not sent their children here. At the same time, the situation when so many children and young people arrived within a short period, became difficult to handle. A normal reception became difficult to achieve. This is an example of an important long-term issue in which the decision-making space of Swedish politicians and authorities is influenced by decisions made not least at EU level.”