At the end of 2019, nearly 38% of permanent residents in Switzerland over the age of 15 had a migrant background, according to recently published data.
Those with a migrant background fell into one of two categories: first or second generation migrants.
First generation migrants, which made up 31% of the population, were either foreign nationals born abroad (30%) or Swiss nationals born abroad to parents who were both born outside Switzerland (1%).
Second generation migrants, which make up 7% of Switzerland’s population, were all born in Switzerland but were either not born Swiss (6%), or, were born Swiss in Switzerland but to parents that were both born abroad (1%). Yup, it’s a bit complicated.
The 38% with a migrant background can also be broken down into those who were born Swiss (2%), those who gained citizenship through naturalisation (13%) and those who remain without Swiss nationality (23%).
The remaining 62% of the population were either non-migrants (60%) or of unclear provenance (2%). To be classified as a non-migrant (60%) someone must be born Swiss in Switzerland and have at least one Swiss parent, be born a foreign national in Switzerland and have two parents born in Switzerland, or, be born Swiss abroad and have at least one parent born in Switzerland. 99.5% of this group are Swiss citizens.
Among migrants the most prevalent foreign nationalities are Portuguese, German, Italian, Kosovar and French.
Cantons with the highest migrant populations are Geneva (61%), Basel-City (51%), Ticino (51%), Vaud (50%), Zurich (43%), Neuchâtel (42%) and Zug (40%).
The percentage of the population with a migration background has risen gradually from 35% (2012) to 38% (2019) over the last 7 years.
Federal Statistical Office data (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
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