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OPEN FORUM: Socio-Economic Trends in the Swedish Taxi Sector – Deregulation, Recommodification, Ethnification

Author(s): Zoran Slavnic | Susanne Urban

Journal: International Journal of Multicultural Societies
ISSN 1817-4574

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 76;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Swedish taxi sector | ethnic labour market | immigration in Sweden | migrant workers

This paper addresses the socio-economic consequences of the rapidderegulation of the Swedish taxi sector in the early 1990s. Thederegulated taxi sector is illustrative of the ethnic labour marketsegmentation brought about by the evolution of the Swedish modelfrom the universal welfare state, relying on “decommodifying” socialpolicies, towards flexible solutions and related recommodifyinglabour market policies. We analyse the income, education and ethnicbackground of those workers for whom the taxi sector was the largestsource of income during the period 1990–2004. An important result ofour analysis is that since deregulation it has been more usual forforeign-born citizens to become involved in the taxi business, mainlybecause discriminatory entry barriers have been removed. But ourfindings also indicate that they have not been integrated in the sector under the same conditions as Swedish-born workers. Although better educated, they derive smaller incomes from the taxi sector than their Swedish-born colleagues. They also receive a higher proportion of social insurance allowances, higher unemployment benefits, and less income from education allowances than the Swedish-born. Altogether, foreign-born workers in the sector have smaller disposable incomes than their Swedish-born counterparts. Compared with the general foreign-born population, however, they have on average fewer social insurance allowances, more unemployment benefits, and less income from education allowances. It seems that an ethnically segmented labour market nevertheless makes it more profitable for the foreignborn to work in the taxi sector than in other sectors or to remain unemployed. Finally, our findings show how sectors with deteriorating working conditions on the one hand appear to offer attractive employment opportunities for foreign-born citizens, while on the other hand they have another (un)intended consequence: foreign workers are the most severely affected by the changing relations between the labour market and social policy.
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