How the war in Syria changed the demography of Sweden and Norway – a demographic butterfly effect

In an increasingly interconnected world, the demographic effects of wars are not confined only to war zones and neighbouring areas; wars and conflicts may also change populations far away. Without the war in Syria and the mass exodus of Syrian refugees, the population trends in distant countries like Sweden and Norway over the last few years would have been different. We create hypothetical scenarios of the population developments in Sweden and Norway without a war in Syria from 2011 onwards, where excess immigration due to the war and associated excess births are removed. The results indicate that population growth in 2016 would have been roughly 36 per cent lower in Sweden and 26 per cent lower in Norway without the Syrian war. The number of births in 2017 would have been 3 per cent lower in Sweden and above 1 per cent lower in Norway. One in ten municipalities would have had a population decline in 2016 instead of a population increase, and the largest immigrant group in Sweden by January 2019 would still be of Finnish origin.