Immigration For Members

What a new study reveals about Switzerland's foreign population

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The Local - [email protected]
What a new study reveals about Switzerland's foreign population
New study tells a lot about foreign nationals. Photo by AFP

A new study released this week by the Federal Statistical Office (OFS) shows some interesting facts about foreign nationals living in Switzerland.


Switzerland's total population is just over 8.5 million. More than a third of residents have migrant backgrounds.

According to OFS, people with migrant background represent 37 percent of Switzerland’s population aged 15 and over, totaling about 2,7 million people.

Permanent residents with foreign origin increased by 1.3 percent between 2018 and 2019. More than 80 percent of them were born abroad and are part of the first generation, while 36 percent hold a Swiss passport.

On the other hand, the proportion of Swiss nationals who have no migration background has fallen by 10 percent.

The most ‘international’ regions in Switzerland

Not surprisingly, Geneva is the most multicultural canton, with foreigners living there accounting for 61.2 percent of its population.

Next are Basel-City (51.1 percent), Ticino (50.7 percent), and Vaud (50 percent).

READ MORE: What we know about dual nationals living in Switzerland 


Employment status

The first generation of immigrants “occupy a less favourable position in the labour market”, the OFS reported.

For the second generation, the situation varies: There is more unemployment than among the non-migrant population, but rate of employees with a managerial function is the same.

The OFS noted, however, that migration status can "under no circumstances be considered as the sole explanatory factor" of these situations. Other variables such as age and level of education also explain these differences.

What else do we know about foreign nationals in Switzerland?

According to other OFS reports, out of 2,176 million foreign nationals, the majority – about 1,434 million — come from the EU and EFTA states. Italian (321,000), German (307,000), Portuguese (260,000) and French (139,000) citizens make up the majority of immigrants from the European Union.

• The roughly 42,000 Britons who live in Switzerland are not counted in the EU statistics since the UK’s exit from the bloc.

Switzerland is in second place in Europe, behind only Luxemburg, in terms of the number of EU and EFTA nationals employed in the country. Nearly 60 percent of them occupy positions in so-called intellectual, scientific or highly qualified professions. They mainly work in the pharma, finance or new technology sectors. About 10 percent are in management positions.

• About 330,000 cross-border workers commute daily to their Swiss jobs from France, Italy, Germany, and Austria.




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