Majority of children in Switzerland have non-Swiss roots, study finds

Majority of children in Switzerland have non-Swiss roots, study finds

A new report from the Tages-Anzeiger has revealed that a majority of children in Switzerland have parents with a migration background. Experts speaking to the newspaper said the results show that the country is “hyper-diverse.”

58 percent of children in Switzerland have migration background

According to official data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), 58 percent of zero to six-year-olds and 56 percent of seven to 15-year-olds live in a household with at least one parent who is either a Swiss citizen who was born abroad or a foreign national. 10 years ago, the same figures stood at 54 and 50 percent respectively.

Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, a sociologist from the University of Basel, Ganga Jey Aratnam, said that the figures are often “kept quiet" for fear of giving ammunition to those who wish to see immigration curtailed, "but it is important to know what Switzerland will look like in the future.” With the country recently reaching a population of nine million people, he argued that debates around immigration are often discussed at a surface / emotional level and do not take into account how diverse the country actually is.

Switzerland has the second-highest immigration rate in OECD

Switzerland currently has the highest rate of immigration per capita of all countries in the OECD, barring Luxembourg. This is most pronounced in the cities, with Aratnam noting that 70 percent of 15 to 70-year-olds in Zurich have a migration background. “To say that Switzerland is diverse is a huge understatement. It’s hyper-diverse,” he continued.

The sociologist argued that migration has its upsides and drawbacks, noting that immigration has allowed Switzerland to “maintain high economic growth” but has also led to housing shortages. However, he added that without migration Switzerland will struggle to pay for its social security and pension systems because of the country's low birth rate.

For instance, for the first time ever, the FSO forecast that there will be three pensioners for every child in Switzerland in 2024. “To ensure that Switzerland doesn’t shrink any further, a new generation of immigrants is constantly needed,” Aratnam concluded.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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