Population by migration status

Following similar approaches in many other countries, the FSO has drawn up a typology of the population by migration status for Switzerland on the basis of UN international recommendations. A person's migration status is defined by combining the following variables: the country of birth, the nationality (current and at birth) of the reference person, as well as the variables country of birth of both parents.

Typology of population by migration status
Place of birth
Nationality Place of birth of the parents
    2 in Switzerland  

1 in Switzerland

and 1 abroad

2 abroad
Swiss Swiss at birth 0
0
II
Swiss by naturalization 0
II II
Foreigner 0
II II
Foreigner
Swiss at birth 0
0
I
Swiss by naturalization I I I
Foreigner I I I
I Population with a migration background, 1st generation
II Population with a migration background, 2nd generation
0 Population without a migration background

The "population with a migration background" as defined by the FSO includes all foreign nationals and 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.

Key figures on persons aged 15 and over

Permanent resident population aged 15 or over, by migration status, 2021
  In thousand In %
Total 7 326 100.0
4 347 59.3
Swiss citizens 4 340 59.3
  of whom naturalised (3rd generation or higher) 20 0.3
Persons with a foreign citizenship (3rd generation or higher) 6 0.1
2 890 39.5
Swiss citizens 1091
14.9
  of whom naturalised 954 13.0
Persons with a foreign citizenship 1 799 24.6
2 275 31.1
Swiss citizens 656 9.0
  of whom naturalised 636
8.6
Persons with a foreign citizenship 1 619 22.1
615 8.4
Swiss citizens 435 5.9
  of whom naturalised 318 4.4
Persons with a foreign citizenship 180 2.5
Population for whom some relevant data are unavailable 89 1.2
Sources: FSO, Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS)

In 2021, 39% of the permanent resident population has a migration background (2,890,000). More than a third of this population (1,090,000) has Swiss nationality. Almost four-fifths of the persons with a migration background belong to the first generation (2,276,000). The remaining fifth was born in Switzerland and is thus part of the second generation (615,000).

The population without a migration background comprises mostly Swiss-born (99.4%), but also naturalized persons (0.5%) 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 (more than 2.2 million in the population aged 15 and over).

This group is composed of:

  • foreign nationals born abroad (1,619,000);
  • foreign-born naturalized persons (636,000);
  • Swiss-born persons born abroad and whose parents were both born abroad (21,000).

The second generation, i.e. persons with a migration background born in Switzerland (615,000 individuals), is composed of:

  • naturalized persons (318,000);
  • foreign nationals with at least one parent born abroad (18,000);
  • Swiss-born persons whose parents were both born abroad (116,000).

Persons younger than 15

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.

More than 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%).

Permanent resident population aged 0 to 14 by nationality and place of birth, 31.12.2021
  In thousand
In %
Total 1 320 100.0
Swiss
965
73.1
Foreigners 354
26.9
1 191
90.2
Swiss
940
71.3
Foreigners 251
19.0
129 9.8
Swiss
25 1.9
Foreigners 104
7.9
Source: FSO, Population and Households Statistics (STATPOP)

Definitions

A household’s migration status is established as follows:

The household has no migration background if neither the father nor mother alone, nor both members of a couple (with or without child(ren)) nor any person in a non-family household or other type of household is not born abroad or does not have a foreign nationality. The household has a migration background if the father or mother, or both members of a couple (with or without child(ren)) or all people in a non-family household or other type of household are born abroad or have a foreign nationality. The household has a mixed migration background if one of the two members of a couple (with or without child(ren)) or at least one of the persons in a non-family household or other type of household is born abroad or has a foreign nationality and the other(s) does/do not.

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Federal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel
Switzerland

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