Migrant density and well-being--a national school survey of 15-year-olds in Sweden

Eur J Public Health. 2013 Oct;23(5):823-8. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckt106. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of migrant density in school on the well-being of pupils with a migrant origin in first as well as second generation.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of data from a national classroom survey of 15-year-old Swedish schoolchildren. The study population included 76 229 pupils (86.5% participation) with complete data set from 1352 schools. Six dimensions of well-being from the KIDSCREEN were analysed in two-level linear regression models to assess the influence of migrant origin at individual level and percentage of students with a migrant origin at school level, as well as interaction terms between them. Z-scores were used to equalize scales.

Results: A high density (>50%) of pupils with a migrant origin in first or second generation was associated with positive well-being on all six scales for foreign-born pupils originating in Africa or Asia compared with schools with low (<10%) migrant density. The effect sizes were 0.56 for boys and 0.29 for girls on the comprehensive KIDSCREEN 10-index (P<0.001) and 0.61 and 0.34, respectively, for psychological well-being (P<0.001). Of the boys and girls born in Africa or Asia, 31.6% and 34.6%, respectively, reported being bullied during the past week in schools with low (<10%) migrant density.

Conclusions: Pupils born in Africa or Asia are at high risk for being bullied and having impaired well-being in schools with few other migrant children. School interventions to improve peer relations and prevent bullying are needed to promote well-being in non-European migrant children.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asians / psychology
  • Blacks / psychology
  • Bullying / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Peer Group
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*