Switzerland's international community swells to nearly 40 percent of population

Switzerland's international community swells to nearly 40 percent of population

A new study by the Swiss government has revealed that nearly 40 percent of the population aged 15 or older has a migration background. The Swiss Labour Force Survey, developed by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), noted that those with a migration background were more likely to be unemployed, regardless of whether they hold Swiss citizenship or a residence permit.

39 percent of the Swiss population has a migration background

The study found that, in 2021, 39 percent of the Swiss population aged 15 or older had a migration background - an increase of 4 percent compared with 2012. In this case, a “migration background" refers to expats and internationals living in Switzerland or new citizens who have been naturalised. 

In 2021, only 40 percent of the population was considered to have “Swiss nationality” - those born Swiss in Switzerland - with Italian and German citizens rounding out the top three with around 10 percent each. Of those with a migration background, 40 percent held a passport from a member of the European Union or European Free Trade Association, while 19 percent held dual citizenship.

Of those that become Swiss citizens, the survey found that 63 percent of applicants were born abroad, while 37 percent of new citizens were born in Switzerland - this is because being born in the alpine nation does not guarantee citizenship. The FSO noted that nearly two-thirds of people who apply for citizenship have lived in Switzerland for less than 20 years.

First and second-generation residents of Switzerland at a disadvantage

The FSO also noted that the migrant population “generally occupies a less advantageous position" than those with Swiss nationality. For example, the rate of unemployment for those with a migration background is more than double the national average at 8 percent. 

However, according to the FSO, this inequality does not last, with a spokesperson telling 20 minuten that “in most areas of life, people from the second generation onwards occupy a position that is closer to those who are not of immigrant origin.” They concluded that the more generations a family lives in Switzerland, the more integrated they become.

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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