Transnationalism can be seen as a space in which migrants create a relationship - real or imaginary - between their country of origin and the host society. The indicators below explore the nature of this complex relationship. They provide us with information about the types of relationship between "here" (Switzerland) and "there" (the country of origin) that migrants and their descendants build over time and how they maintain them.

Family abroad

73% of people with a migration background have at least one close family member living abroad. Of these, 49% said their brothers and sisters lived outside of Switzerland, 36% their mother and 30% their father. Among the family members mentioned most often, grandparents come in fourth place (27%). Almost 10% have children living in other countries: 6% are adult children and 3% minors. Only 3% of people with a migration background say that they have a partner or grandchildren abroad. On average, two family members outside Switzerland are mentioned.

Close family members living abroad, 2017
Brothers and sisters 49.0
Mother 36.8
Father 30.4
Grandparents 26.6
Children (+18) 6.4
Grandchildren 3.9
Partner 3.3
Children (-18) 2.6
Source: FSO - SLFS, migration module

Trips to the country of origin

67% of people with a migration background visit their country of origin at least once a year. This figure varies according to whether there are family members living in the country of origin, such as a parent or brothers and sisters. 75% of people with a migration background that have a close relative outside Switzerland make the trip to their country of origin at least once a year, whereas for those without relatives abroad, the rate is 47%.

Types of contact

Among people with a migration background who have close family abroad, 89% are in contact by phone or internet at least once a month; 76% visit at least once a year and 20% send money at least once a year. Long-distance communications are the most common form of contact. 72% of people have both monthly contacts as well as making annual visits.

Further information




Federal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuch√Ętel



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