A recent study on the migration backgrounds of Swiss residents shows just how international Switzerland’s population is.
The percentage of foreigners in the population at the end of 2016 was 25%1. However, when the definition is expanded to include everyone with a migration background, it rises to 37%. The extra 12% includes naturalised Swiss citizens, except those born in Switzerland with two Swiss parents born in Switzerland, and Swiss citizens at birth whose parents were both born abroad.
This means, for example, a Swiss with four Swiss grandparents who marries a foreigner will have children who will be classified as having a migration background.
The largest groups are Italians, Germans, Portuguese and French, in descending order.
The cantons of Geneva (64%), Basel (50%), Ticino (49%), Vaud (48%), Zurich (42%) and Zug (40%) had the most international populations. Uri and Nidwalden, both with 15%, were the most Swiss.
The percentage of residents with a migration background rose from 35% to 37% in the four years since 2012. This is because growth in the number of those with no migration background (+1%) was outstripped by growth in the number with a migration background (+11%).
If this growth difference were to continue, within 25 years, more than 50% of the nation would have a migration background2. By 2040, only 49% would have no migration background, as defined by the United Nations.
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1 2,101,100 foreigners divided by a total population of 8,419,600 – 2016 figures.
2 This calculation applies an 11% growth rate every 4 years from 2016 until 2040 to the population with a migration background in 2016 and a 1% growth rate every 4 years from 2016 until 2040 to the population without a migration background in 2016.