Coming of Age in Exile: Health and Socio-Economic Inequalities in Young Refugees in the Nordic Welfare Societies. (2020) [PDF]

Coming of Age in Exile: Health and Socio-Economic Inequalities in Young Refugees in the Nordic Welfare Societies. NordForsk, 2020,

Coming of Age in Exile (CAGE) has been a multidisciplinary research project, funded by the Nordic Research Council (NordForsk) during 2015-2020, for more information see CAGE has been led by the Danish Research Centre for Migration, Ethnicity and Health (MESU) at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen and carried out in collaboration with researchers at the Migration Institute of Finland, Turku; the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS), Oslo; the University of South-Eastern Norway, University of Bergen, University of Gothenburg, and the Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet. 

During the last fifty years, the number of people moving to the Nordic countries has increased. From the 1970s onwards, a large part of non-Nordic immigration has consisted of refugees and their families. Children below 18 years of age comprise a sizable proportion of refugee immigrants, i.e. 25-35% of the refugees in the Nordic countries, and about twice as many when children born in exile are also included. In welfare typologies, the Nordic countries are often considered as similar in terms of their welfare state policies, but there are also important differences between countries in terms of immigration policy and economic context. The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), a comparative policy analysis tool used by the European Union, has shown that during the period in which the CAGE study was conducted, Denmark ranked far behind the other Nordic countries, with more restrictive integration policies related to financial support, family reunification, and possibilities for naturalisation. Key economic factors also differ considerably between countries, with Sweden and Finland having had higher rates of youth unemployment during recent decades. The Nordic countries, with their excellent national registers, provide a unique arena for comparative studies of refugee children and youth in order to obtain an understanding of contextual factors in the reception countries for the integration of young refugees. 

The aim of the CAGE project has been to investigate inequalities in education, labour market participation, and health during the formative years in young refugees, and how they relate to national policies and other contextual factors. CAGE has used a mixed methods strategy built around a core of cross-country comparative quantitative register studies in national cohorts of refugees who were granted residency as children (0-17 years) during 1986-2005 in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, with follow-up until 2015. These quantitative register studies have been complimented with policy analyses and qualitative studies of key mechanisms involved in the development of these inequalities.