The enthusiasm of the Swedish people for ethnic and cultural diversity in society has declined noticeably in 2016, a biannual survey has shown. It marks the biggest shift in attitudes since the University of Gävle began measurements in 2005.
While 64 per cent of Swedes are still in favour of diversity, the figure is 10 percentage points down from 2014 with the most marked decline in approval shown among middle-aged people and women. The university did not conduct the study in 2015.
Of those questioned 55 per cent think that migrants who have newly arrived from third world countries should have the same rights to healthcare, schooling, and welfare as people born in Sweden. Though still a majority, the number has sharply declined from 2014 when 77 per cent agreed.
Optimism over multiculturalism saw a decrease, too, with 49 per cent advocating Sweden create conditions that allow migrants to conserve their cultural traditions from their homelands, compared to 57 per cent in 2014.
Asked whether they thought all religions have the same values, only 24 per cent of people agreed while 45 per cent disagreed. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said they think Islam is based on foundations that conflict with human rights, compared with less than 25 per cent for Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.
Four in 10 of those surveyed said they believe a neighbourhood has fewer problems if the majority of residents have the same ethnic background. Just a third of people said they would prefer to have people born in Sweden as neighbours, with respondents’ attitudes towards people from the Middle East and Africa more negative.
Thirty-six per cent of people said they think areas heavily populated with people from the Middle East are more dangerous than areas in which most residents are ethnic Swedes. Twenty per cent believe areas mostly populated with Africans are more dangerous than areas inhabited with mainly Swedes.
Just 6 per cent think Asian areas or neighbourhoods with large numbers of Hispanics are more dangerous than Swedish areas. An astonishing 40 per cent of respondents said it’s impossible to judge whether an area is dangerous based on the geographic origin of its inhabitants.
Three in ten Swedes said they would consider moving house if families from the Middle East moved in nearby, with one in five saying they would relocate if the families were African. Half of the survey’s respondents said they would not move no matter who moved into the area.
Senior author of the Diversity Barometer, sociology professor Fereshteh Ahmadi, warned that “extreme right wing and even racist trends” are sweeping the Western world.
Commenting on the diminishing value of diversity among female respondents this year, he said: “We believe that the image projected by the media suggesting that dangerous men from certain regions come here to commit sexual assault may have negatively affected attitudes, especially among women.”