A research project within the research program migration and integration.

Project leader: Bo Malmberg

Period: 2024–2027

Seat of learning: Stocholm University

Project title: Language and life-course: An exploration of the Swedish-for immigrants-program, 1990–2022

What is the project about?

Language proficiency is widely recognized as a crucial factor in helping migrants secure employment, good income, and a sense of belonging. This project aims to study the impact of the SFI program(Swedish for immigrants) on migrant integration into the Swedish labor market using data from national language proficiency tests and the program itself. Combining register data, test data, and qualitative interviews, the project intends to provide a comprehensive and historical analysis of the SFI. The project will use longitudinal data to study the role of SFI in different migrant pathways and how it correlates with factors like education, employment, family formation, and income.

The project applies a life-course perspective to examine migrant language competence, educational integration, and labor market integration, considering four contexts crucial to the migrant experience: residential neighborhood, municipality, SFI provider, and the workplace. Using latent class analysis, the project will analyze longitudinal data related to migrant trajectories and language competences. This project also plans to supplement quantitative data with qualitative interviews to understand individual migrant experiences better. Interviews will be conducted with students, teachers, stakeholders from SFI providers, and representatives from various municipalities to capture a comprehensive understanding of factors influencing migrant integration and host country language competence development.

Project research questions

  1. How do migrants acquire competence in Swedish?
  2. How is the acquisition of language competence affected by migrants' different life paths?
  3. How does language competence affect the life path that migrants follow?

To do this, we will rely on longitudinal registry data that makes it possible to follow migrants' experiences in various life domains, and where there are also data on achieved language competences. The registry-based study will be complemented with interviews.


The project is a collaboration between the Department of Human Geography and the Department of Teaching and Learning at Stockholm University.

The participants are:

  • Bo Malmberg, Professor in human geography
  • Linn Axelsson, Associate professor in human geography
  • Samaneh Khaef, PhD candidate in human geography (thesis defence April 2024)
  • Katrin Ahlgren, Associate professor

Links to homepages of project participants:




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