Recommended by the EU, this subjective indicator reflects an aspect of co-existence between the different population groups that can hinder the integration process. The indicator provides information on the extent to which people have experienced racial discrimination. Integration can be greatly hampered if the population are subject to discrimination.
In 2020, 19% of the permanent resident population aged 15 to 88 suffered at least one racial discrimination experience related to at least one of the following characteristics: nationality, religion, ethnic origins, skin colour or other distinctive physical features. Among the population without a migration background, the rate was 11%. In the population with a migration background, it was 31%; i.e. almost three times more.
Between 2010 and 2014, an increase could be seen in the percentage of the population that had experienced racial discrimination due to their nationality, ethnicity, and religion or because of their appearance. This increase is greater among foreign nationals (+13 percentage points) than among Swiss nationals (+2 percentage points).
Due to changes in the methodology, it is not possible to compare the years from 2010 to 2014 with the years from 2016 to 2020. Between 2016 and 2020, the population with a migration background experienced a higher increase in racial discrimination (+9 percentage points) compared to the population without a migration background (+3 percentage points).
As this experience of racial discrimination is based on self-assessment, it is possible that the observed increase is linked to an increase in awareness of the phenomenon of discrimination rather than an increase in the number of cases.
The proportion of the populating stating that they have experienced racial discrimination is higher in French-speaking Switzerland (23%) than in German- and Romansh-speaking Switzerland (18%) and Italian-speaking Switzerland (15%).
Moreover, in all language regions, the proportion of the population with a migration background that have experienced discrimination is significantly higher than in the population without a migration background. In German and Romansh-speaking Switzerland the difference between the two populations is greatest (31% compared with 11%; i.e. three times greater).
In 2020, 67% of victims of racial discrimination stated that this most often took place in socio-economic situations (when house or job-hunting, or at school or in everyday working life). Discrimination experienced in a context of social interaction (in public spaces, entering a restaurant, club or discotheque, during leisure activities, in an association or on the internet), was observed in 56% of cases.
In socioeconomic situations, the population with a migration background is more affected by racial discrimination than that without (75% vs. 53%). The opposite situation can be observed for social interactions (70% for the population without a migration background and 49% for the population with a migration background).
Discrimination describes any action that denies a person certain rights, that treats them unfairly or intolerantly, that threatens or humiliates them or puts them in danger. Racial discrimination is when the above actions are carried out on account of the discriminated person's physical characteristics, their ethnicity, religious beliefs or because of their culture or nationality. By racism, we mean an ideology that classifies people into groups, on the basis of real or imagined differences which are deemed to be unalterable. Racists claim that people belong to a certain group by giving them pseudo-biological origins or a common culture. Racists emphasise the differences - real or imagined - to justify inequalities between groups or to defend privileges.
With regard to the integration, only cases of discrimination related to nationality, religion, ethnic origins, skin colour or other distinctive physical features were taken into account.
The number of people having experienced racial discrimination in the 5 years preceding the survey was divided by the number of persons in the population group by sex, age, nationality, place of birth, level of education, language region and degree of urbanisation. The indicator is expressed as a percentage.
Victims were able to indicate several situations in which they had experienced an act of racial discrimination. This meant that we were able to deduce how often each type of situation occurred in relation to all the situations taken together:
- The “socio-professional or economic situations” category lists cases experienced when looking for housing, when applying for a job, at school, during higher education, at work on a day-to-day basis.
- The “public and state institutions” category lists cases of discrimination experienced in public administration, in the health sector, during contacts with the police, army or social assistance.
- The “social interaction” category includes cases experienced in public spaces, when entering a restaurant, a bar, or a club, during leisure activities, sport, in associations, on the internet, or on social media .
- The “family and private sphere” category includes cases experienced in individuals’ private lives or within their family.
- Lastly, for situations not mentioned, the act of discrimination is classified under “Other situations”.
The isolated results for the cumulated years 2010, 2012 and 2014 shown here come from the SG-FDHA pilot project “Survey on diversity and coexistence in Switzerland”.
As of 2016, the results shown here come from the Survey on diversity and coexistence in Switzerland (VeS), conducted by the FSO.
ContactFederal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
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