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Scand J Public Health. 2019 Nov;47(7):735-747. doi: 10.1177/1403494818787099. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

Health, Education and Employment Outcomes in Young Refugees in the Nordic Countries: A Systematic Review.

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Department of Public Health, Section for Health Services Research, Danish Research Centre for Migration, Ethnicity and Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
CHESS | Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Department of Health, Social and Welfare Studies, University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway.
Migration Institute of Finland, Finland.


Objectives: Since 2000, approximately 500,000 refugees have settled in the Nordic countries, about a third of them being children and young people. To identify general trends, and to detect gaps in the existing knowledge about the socioeconomic and health status of these young refugees, this review discusses the literature regarding three key areas related to welfare policy: health, education and employment. Methods: A systematic search in PubMed, Scopus, SocINDEX, Sociological Abstracts, Embase and Cochrane, and a search for publications from relevant institutions were undertaken. All publications had to be original quantitative studies published since 1980. The total number of studies identified was 1353, 25 publications were included. Results: Young refugees had poorer mental health than ethnic minority and native-born peers. Mental health problems were related to pre-migration experiences but also to post-migration factors, such as discrimination and poor social support. Refugees performed worse in school than native-born and few progressed to higher education. Experiencing less discrimination and having better Nordic language proficiency was associated with higher educational attainment. A higher proportion of refugees were unemployed or outside the labour force compared with other immigrants and native-born. Assessment instruments varied between studies, making comparisons difficult. Conclusions: The study suggests pre-migration factors but also post-migration conditions such as perceived discrimination, social support and Nordic language proficiency as important factors for the mental health, education and employment outcomes of young refugees in the Nordic countries. Further Nordic comparative research and studies focusing on the relationship between health, education and employment outcomes are needed.


Refugee; education; employment; mental health outcomes; young

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