Population by migration status
In international discussions on immigration and integration, the term population with a migration background is used with growing frequency. This concept is increasingly used to replace the simple distinction between citizens (or nationals) and foreign citizens (or non-nationals), which does not take into account whether individuals are themselves immigrants or have an indirect connection to migration through their parents' migration experiences.
The "population with a migration background" as defined by the FSO includes all foreign nationals, naturalized Swiss citizens, except for those born in Switzerland and whose parents were both born in Switzerland, as well as Swiss citizens at birth whose parents were both born abroad.
In 2019, about 38% of the permanent resident population has a migration background (2,722,000). More than a third of this population (992,000) has Swiss nationality. Four-fifths of the persons with a migration background belong to the first generation (2,202,000). The remaining fifth was born in Switzerland and is thus part of the second generation (520,000).
The population without a migration background comprises mostly Swiss-born (99.5%), but also naturalized persons (0.4%) and foreign nationals from the third or a higher generation (0.1%).
With the exception of Swiss-born persons who have at least one parent born in Switzerland, all persons born abroad are considered as belonging to the first generation of persons with a migration background (about 2.2 million in the population aged 15 and over in 2019).
This group is composed of:
- foreign nationals born abroad (comprising slightly more than 70% of the group: 1,557,000);
- Swiss-born persons born abroad and whose parents were both born abroad (26,000);
- foreign-born naturalized persons (619,000).
The second generation, i.e. persons with a migration background born in Switzerland (520,000 individuals), is composed of naturalized persons (50%), foreign nationals with at least one parent born abroad (33%) and Swiss-born persons whose parents were both born abroad (17%).
It is not possible to determine the migration status of children under the age of 15 with FSO data. However, information can be obtained regarding their place of birth and nationality.
Almost three-quarters of the population aged under 15 is Swiss and was born in Switzerland. The remaining quarter was either born abroad (10%: 8% foreign nationals and 2% Swiss nationals), or born in Switzerland and of foreign nationality (19%).