I tried to find a historical chart of Sweden's violent crime rate and came across this:

sweden violent crime rate

Which was the first image search result: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=sweden+violent+crime+rate+history+chart&iax=1&ia=images

However it's not sourced and this is different from the values here


I don't really consider burglary a violent crime - just a property crime. Anyways, I wanted to see Sweden's immigration rate as well, but couldn't find any charts with both values (crime, immigration).


Only this one for immigration/emigration:

sweden immigration

  • If you want to ask about Muslim immigration and crime that is certainly permissible. I'm just trying to clarify the question per an Indigochild suggestion, and not trying to change the question.
    – user9790
    Jan 25 '17 at 0:42
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    Using Google reverse image search (permalink too long to put here), the first mention I can find of that image is 4chan on 25th of March 2015. The only other mentions are in forum posts and the like after that date. In other words: looks like some 4chan troll pulled that directly out of his behind (also knows as PIDOOMA).
    – user11249
    Jan 25 '17 at 1:04
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    couldn't find any charts with both values (crime, immigration) -> The problem with that is, what axis do you use and what scale? Obviously they can't be the same. Also, correlation doesn't imply causation (or: lack of correlation doesn't mean lack of causation). So in that sense putting both lines on the same chart may not be as insightful you you'd think it might be and is a great way to "lie" (or be fooled, even when there is no malicious intent) with statistics.
    – user11249
    Jan 25 '17 at 1:30
  • If the chart isn't deliberately inflammatory, and the data are accurate, I'd wager that an Excel neophyte reversed the series labels by mistake. It is, after all, a vanilla Excel chart with basic/default settings.
    – Khashir
    Jan 26 '17 at 15:16
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    A fair question in terms of pure data, but it'd be nice to see an actual connection between the two variables less it just sounds a bit like an attempt and connecting dots through pseudo analysis. For example, the two variables have no connection at all unless you are also taking into account something like the violent crime rate of immigrants specifically.
    – user1530
    Feb 8 '17 at 19:48

The issue is far more complex than a simple historical rate comparison. You can find a summary of several reports here, and can access the reports by clicking the relevant links.

In short, most crimes in Sweden (~60% of them) are committed by suspects born of 2 Swedish parents. However, immigrant males are more likely to be investigated (and possibly convicted, in part due to facing discrimination from the Swedish judicial system) than ethnic Swedes---this likelihood diminishes the younger the person arrives in Sweden, the higher their socioeconomic status, and their education level.

In other words, not very different from any other society or place in the world: people with higher education, better social integration and life prospects, have little incentive to turn to violent crime.

To more directly answer your question, Nationmaster.com has an accurate and verifiable comparison between crime in the US and Sweden, which disproves the chart in your question (given the lack of sources/data gathering methodology, etc.).

Excerpts of the main findings from those reports:

The 2005 report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention studying 4.4 million Swedes between the ages of 15 and 51 during the period 1997-2001 found that 58.9% of crime suspects were born to two Swedish parents (74.5% of total population), 10.4% of those born to one Swedish parent (9.3% of total population), 5.2% of those born to two foreign parents (3.2% of total population), and 25% of foreign-born individuals (13.1% of total population).[86] The report found that male immigrants were four times more likely to be investigated for lethal violence and robbery than ethnic Swedes. In addition, male immigrants were three times more likely to be investigated for violent assault, and five times more likely to be investigated for sex crimes.[86] ...

On the other hand:

A 2006 government report however suggests that immigrants face discrimination by law enforcement, which could lead to meaningful differences between those suspected of crimes and those actually convicted.[88] A 2008 report by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention finds evidence of discrimination towards individuals of foreign descent in the Swedish judicial system.[25] The 2005 report finds that immigrants who entered Sweden during early childhood have lower crime rates than other immigrants.[89] By taking account of socioeconomic factors (gender, age, education and income), the crime rate gap between immigrants and natives decreases.[89]


A study using more comprehensive socioeconomic factors than the 1996 and 2005 reports found that "for males, we are able to explain between half and three-quarters of the gap in crime by reference to parental socio-economic resources and neighbourhood segregation. For females, we can explain even more, sometimes the entire gap."[12] The authors furthermore found "that culture is unlikely to be a strong cause of crime among immigrants".[12]

Bonus: A personal anecdote, as an immigrant in another country (i.e., not Sweden). My two brothers and I emigrated (through proper legal channels) from a developing country traditionally associated with drug dealing and other crimes, to a developed country with low crime rates. We are all bilingual/trilingual, have professional degrees, same for our partners. Here, we've met other legal migrants from our country (civil engineers, special effects animators working in blockbuster movies, etc.), who are also gainfully employed, pay their taxes, and pay into the public health care system. Many of us have had spells of unemployment, and none have turned to violent crime as a result---we do as everyone else does: update our resumes/linkedin profiles, go to job hunting sites, start looking. Others have gone back to school, gotten another credential, started a new job.

However, one of these friends (say, John) met a fellow countryman (Peter) who came here illegally. Peter had never met another migrant from our country, and poured out his soul to John: that Peter's dad brought Peter illegally when he was just a boy, he grew up under unstable circumstances, and nowadays, Peter was a drug trafficker (yes, he shared as much). John, who wanted to stay on the Law's good side, didn't want to be associated with Peter, and left the party.

So... same country, vastly different immigration and life conditions. Immigration alone doesn't increase violent crime, but unmanaged immigration (i.e., without resources devoted to promoting integration, education opportunities, and reducing discrimination/racism) will often create marginalized groups which, in times of need, can turn violent.

  • 4
    That comparison could need a bit more attention, because it goes completely contrary to what the image in the question says. According to nationmaster.com, The United States are still far ahead of Sweden in every category of violent crime except rape. Rape being so prominent in Swedish crime statistics might be because of the comparably broad definition of rape in Sweden. The Swedish law code qualifies many acts as rape which would be lesser crimes in other jurisdictions.
    – Philipp
    Jan 25 '17 at 9:31
  • This is good info, but it's a snapshot. Is there a chart or table with trends and historical data?
    – Chloe
    Feb 1 '17 at 16:22
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    > unmanaged immigration (i.e., without resources devoted to promoting integration, education opportunities, and reducing discrimination/racism) will often create marginalized groups which, in times of need, can turn violent. I think I mentioned this is a different question but the host countries should be held responsible for their inability to create a conducive environment for the immigrants to remain non-violent. When the host countries fail to do that, people blame the poor immigrants. Just not fair.
    – dannyf
    Feb 8 '17 at 18:36
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    @Klashir 99% of all Canadian immigrants at the very least received a tourist visa to get into the country. Completely incomparable to (say) Germany where a million people entered without any vetting. Aug 23 '17 at 21:15
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    Hence, my comment amount unmanaged immigration, and the Peter/John story. It is unfortunate that Merkel's good-will was not matched with good execution: the fallout has little to do with the immigration rate (which the charts in the question are discussing), and more to do with the tragedy of war, and the torrent of displaced.
    – Khashir
    Feb 9 '18 at 21:30

The graphs in your first image are not comparing the same thing. The Swedish red line measures the number of charges filed for violent crime per 100,000 citizens. It looks like the source is table 1.2 from the report Kriminalstatistik 2009, but it is hard to know for sure.

The data for the American blue line comes form the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This program was designed in 1929 to provide law enforcement agencies with accurate data on the development of crime. The whole point of the program was to produce statistics that were comparable year to year.

The graphs are therefore apples to oranges and highly misleading. The reason for the explosion in the number of charges filed are many and varied. I won't go in this answer because it is a different topic. But you can investigate statistics for Sweden's neighbours. They too have ten times as many charges filed today as they did in the 1960s.

We can instead look at the total number of homicides in Sweden:

Homicides in Sweden

Note that the above graph is not per capita adjusted. It also doesn't cover the years after 2010 which have become increasingly violent. Here is the homicide rate for the US (per capita adjusted):

Homicides in the US

Now you might object and say "Wait a minute. Homicides != Violent crime!" That is true and only a small fraction of all violent crime is homicide. However, tracking violent crime is notoriously different for many reasons, among them that definitions change. In 1960, beating your children was legal. Today it is a violent crime. Therefore we use homicide as a proxy for all violent crime. It has the added advantage that it makes it hard for government agencies to fudge the numbers.

But we can also examine statistics on assault:

Assault in Sweden

The data in these graphs come from so called victim surveys. The researches send out surveys and ask a sample of the population how many of them have been the victim of an assault. As you can see, the numbers haven't moved much since 1990.

I hope that answers your question. Sweden has received a massive number of immigrants, but the amount of violent crime has remained roughly constant or even decreasing.

  • Can you please explain what the different color lines mean? For those who don't speak the language.
    – Chloe
    Feb 6 '18 at 4:06

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