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Staff shortages in Swedish elderly care – reflections on gender and diversity politics

Linda Lill (Department of Social Work, Malmö Universitet, Malmo, Sweden)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 15 September 2020

Issue publication date: 15 September 2020




The purpose of this paper is to discuss how the labor shortage is described at the national level and how these problematizations correlate to gender and diversity politics. The paper is overview of the governance of staff shortages in elderly care, how it is articulated and how the governmental scenario of solutions, which includes the channeling of unemployed migrants into elderly care. Politicians and public media describe the situation as desperate and the issue of the staff shortages in elderly care is described as a state of crisis. A highly profiled solution is to open up elderly care for unemployed migrants.


By analyzing specific management strategies for controlling a phenomenon, the paper will also be able to highlight values surrounding the phenomenon. The ambition is to understand how institutions, authorities and organizations handle practical forms of knowledge that are aimed to implement a particular policy or working method within the welfare system.


One important aspect of the findings is the ways in which these official political discourses link the issues of migration and the shortages of staff in elderly care. But also visualize factors in how the government bodies with the formal responsibilities and authorities express their concerns about these links and the quality of the elderly care more generally.


It is well-known that migrants are employed to take care of the growing population of elderly in Europe. In Spain and Italy, for example, immigrants are frequently employed directly by families to care for their elderly family members. This type of employment entails a series of new social risks. The most important of those risks is the global “care chain” that these arrangements incur for the sending families, who lose a family member on whom they depend. This paper is connecting the international research on the global “care chain,” but focuses on the Swedish context, where the migrants already are established and elderly care work is not linked to migration in the same way. However, the experience of migration and the importance of transnational and cultural knowledge can be influential in understanding the changing processes in Swedish elderly care, not the least as the question of staff recruitment has been linked to migration by the highest political levels.



Lill, L. (2020), "Staff shortages in Swedish elderly care – reflections on gender and diversity politics", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 269-278.



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