Attitudes towards an itinerant way of life

What are the attitudes of Switzerland’s population towards persons with an itinerant way of life? For example towards some Yenish and Sinti? What obstacles may they encounter in Switzerland?

Way of life

Comparison of different ways of life. How are different ways of life accepted by the population, when it comes to:

Withdrawing children from school for several months per year? For the practice of an itinerant way of life the approval rate is 53%. For professional reasons, the rate is 42%. The most accepted reason is for work in an alpine agricultural area (60%).

Renting a site? For parking caravans housing itinerant families the approval rate is 58%. For a music festival the rate is 61%. The rental is the most widely accepted for scout camps (84%).

Halting sites

The population is more favourable to provision of halting sites for Swiss nationals with an itinerant way of life (54%) than for foreign nationals (38%).  

For sites intended for Swiss nationals, around 70% of the population are in favour of a site in their own canton or another canton. The rate decreases to 60% if the potential site is located in their own commune. For sites intended for foreign nationals, at the level of the canton or other cantons, between 46% and 48% of the population are in favour of a site. In their own commune, the rate falls to 42%.

The Yenish and Sinti

Almost two thirds (63%) of the population consider that the culture and the music of the Yenish and Sinti are an enrichment for Switzerland. Only 18% think that this culture must be abandoned for integration. With regard to the promotion of their culture, 43% believe that this is important and 55% oppose this. Three quarters of the population (75%) think that more explanations on the history of Switzerland’s Yenish and Sinti should be provided and are necessary.

Further information





Itinerant way of life: The itinerant way of life refers to the practices of various groups and is associated with gainful employment. It was symbiotic with the rural economy and standard until the 19th century. A sedentary lifestyle as a predominant model developed with industrialisation and the development of the nation state.

The Yenish and Sinti: The Yenish are a native minority who has always lived in Switzerland. Together with the long-resident Sinti, they are recognised by Switzerland as a minority within the scope of The Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. For both minorities, the itinerant way of life is a central aspect of their cultural identity and self-image; despite the fact that, today, most of them live a sedentary life, sometimes under duress.



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



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