Andrea Dunlavy, researcher at the Department of Public Health Sciences. Photo: Niklas Björling/Stockholm University

Andrea Dunlavy, post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Health Equity Studies within the Department of Public Health Sciences, has received a post-doctoral grant of 2 000 000 SEK from Forte (Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare). During her postdoc project time, she will investigate the health and integration in refugee children in Sweden.

Abstract

In recent years, Sweden has experienced a substantial increase in the number of refugees arriving in the country, a considerable proportion of whom are children under the age of 18. This development has made the health and integration of young refugees a top policy priority, essential for the maintenance of a sustainable welfare state. Despite this, refugees continue to experience health and social inequalities relative to other immigrants and the native majority population.

Education and the school environment play a central role in migrant and refugee children’s resettlement transitions and trajectories from childhood to adulthood. Previous research has shown associations between migrant density in schools and health, but there remains a need to study such relationships further in the Swedish context. This postdoc project aims to investigate the role of migrant density in schools as a social determinant of health and economic integration, using a large Swedish register data material. Particular attention will be paid to the impact of age of arrival and country of origin, as these factors have been independently associated with health, education, and employment outcomes in migrants and refugees. The extent to which the impact of these migration background characteristics may be modified by migrant density in schools has not previously been explored. Refugee children are the primary group of interest, but age-matched non-refugee migrant children, children of refugees born in Sweden, and native majority children will be assessed as relevant comparison populations.

The diverse backgrounds of migrants and refugees can prove challenging for the provision of welfare services that best facilitate health and integration. The expected results of this project will inform Swedish policies aimed at promoting integration and reducing health and social inequalities in young refugees.