The following statement is found in many far-right websites like Gateway Pundit:

80% of the so-called children were actually adults

Is it true that 80% of unaccompanied children refugees arriving in Sweden are actually adults? I find it very hard to believe that 80% managed to trick the authorities.

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    Then there is this 75% figure by the Daily Mail (supposedly from the swedish migration board) and this 76% figure by Russia Today (supposedly from the swedish national board of forensic medicine). Neither are in any way reliable sources, but both of these numbers could probably be either verified or disproven.
    – tim
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 7:55
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    I think this is one of those '80% of appeals were successful' things. So, for example the Independent has "Two thirds of disputed Calais 'child refugees' are adults, Home Office figures reveal."
    – richardb
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 9:15
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    @Felipe All guidelines I have read also state that anyone can vote any way for any reason. Personally, I DVed OPs last question because I think it helped spread false information - or really, far-right propaganda - for no good reason (there was no interesting underlying topic for any scientific investigation, and my guess is that most of the upvotes were also politically motivated). I upvoted this question because it's a much more interesting question worthy of debunking. I also think that adding skepticism or distancing from far-right sources is valid (although OP overdid it in this case).
    – tim
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 22:08
  • Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/q/39926/11591 Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


It's a distortion of reality. The origin is probably https://www.rmv.se/verksamheter/medicinska-aldersbedomningar/metoder/ where they describe the method used. The result of an examination is given in different levels of confidence, "The assessment of the completed survey indicates that the surveyor is 18 years of age or older", "The assessment of the survey conducted may indicate that the surveyor is 18 years or older" and "The assessment of a survey conducted possibly indicate that it is under 18 years of age". Even at best the method have a 10% failure rate. When a second opinion is made the result differs in 85% of the cases.SvD

The figure 80% is given in https://www.metro.se/artikel/nya-siffror-80-procent-av-unders%C3%B6kta-ensamkommande-%C3%B6ver-18-%C3%A5r-men-metoden-f%C3%A5r-kritik The raw numbers are that 6880 medical age assessments were submitted. 2481 statements were given. The result is that 2002 were assessed as being 18 or older. In 25 of those it was judged as "possibly" and 432 "may be".

Summary: In about 80% of the suspected cases the suspicion turned out to be possibly correct. Medical age assessment is of course not used in every case, only where someone claims to below 18, but is suspected of being above 18. So the high number may say more about how good they are at judging age from just observing them (psychological and psychological).

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    I think it is important to stress than an age assesment is asked for only for people who claim to claim to be under 18 and for whom that claim might be questionned. Ten years old kids won't be submitted to that examination, neither won't babies. As a consequence, your "summary" is correct in refering to the suspected cases, but the statement is the question about the migrant unaccompanied children is unsustained, and most probably false.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 10:25
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    I'm not sure what those numbers mean. Are you saying that out of the 6880 assessments, only 2481 determinations were produced, and out of those 2002 were that the individuals are (or maybe) above 18? What happened with the other 4878 assessments? How many total unaccompanied children have applied for refugee status?
    – ventsyv
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 21:27
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    It should also be noted that when a second opinion is requested they get another result in 85% of the cases.
    – liftarn
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 12:57

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