In a globalised world with an increasing division of labour, the competition for highly skilled individuals—regardless of their origin—is growing, as is the value of such individuals for national economies. Yet the majority of studies analysing the economic integration of immigrants shows that those who are highly skilled also have substantial hurdles to overcome: their employment rates and salaries are lower and they face a higher education-to-occupation mismatch compared to highly skilled natives. This paper contributes to the paucity of studies on the employment patterns of highly skilled immigrants to Sweden by providing an overview of the socio-demographic characteristics, labour-market participation and occupational mobility of highly educated migrants in Sweden. Based on a statistical analysis of register data, we compare their employment rates, salaries and occupational skill level and mobility to those of immigrants with lower education and with natives. The descriptive analysis of the data shows that, while highly skilled immigrants perform better than those with a lower educational level, they never catch up with their native counterparts. Our regression analyses confirm these patterns for highly skilled migrants. Furthermore, we find that reasons for migration matter for highly skilled migrants’ employment outcomes, with labour migrants having better employment rates, income and qualification-matched employment than family reunion migrants and refugees.
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