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In good times and in bad Immigrants, Self-employment and Social insurances.


  • Mats Persson

Summary, in English

This thesis analyses self-employment, sickness absence and early retirement pension among

immigrants in Sweden. The empirical analysis investigate a period, 1981-2003, characterized by a

transformation from high employment and expansion of the welfare state in the 1980s into a state with

high unemployment and tightening social insurance systems during in the 1990s, This thesis goes

beyond most previous studies in adopting a regional approach, thereby allowing for an analysis of the

importance of local and regional labour market conditions. Using longitudinal register-data over a

long time-span also allows us to embrace a life-course perspective following individuals from

childhood into adulthood and exploring the importance of early life conditions on sickness absence.

This thesis shows that self-employment decision is influenced by local labour market conditions.

Interestingly, the mechanism seems to be different in the process of entering and leaving selfemployment.

Our findings show that immigrants enter self-employment when local labour demand is

improving and leave their business for non-employment in response to deteriorating local labour

market conditions.

The results in this thesis are consistent with the notion and indications from previous research that the

use of the social insurance system in Sweden has not only been related to health, but also influenced

by contextual and non-medical factors at regional level, in terms of both local labour market

conditions and institutional aspects (e.g. social norms). The results also show that exposure to worse

health conditions during the first year of life is associated with the greater likelihood of experiencing

sickness absence in adulthood.

Publishing year




Document type



  • Economic History




  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-15-8

Defence date

25 September 2015

Defence time


Defence place



  • Bernt Bratsberg (professor)