Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Immigration helps explain Sweden's educational problems
Sweden’s education performance has faltered in the past decades, with scores tumbling in the OECD’s international Pisa survey since the early 2000s. 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% in mathematical literacy, 28% in reading literacy, and 41% in scientific literacy. The effect is especially pronounced in recent years, coinciding with accelerating refugee immigration. Indeed, between 2009 and 2012, 43% of the average Pisa score decline is explained by altered demographics: a full 29% in mathematical literacy, 45% in reading literacy, and 62% in scientific literacy. About 11% of the overall decline can be attributed directly to the decreasing share of pupils with a Swedish background, while 18% can be attributed to the fact that results among pupils with an immigrant background have fallen more significantly. While scores among pupils with a Swedish background have declined by 22 points between 2000 and 2012, scores among pupils with an immigrant background have fallen by 39 points – and the performance gap between the two groups has grown from 36 points to 53 points.