The number of people – Swiss and foreign nationals – departing Switzerland for pastures new or old has increased to levels not seen for 20 years, figures show. But the country still remains attractive to immigrants.
In total the population of Switzerland grew by 1.1 per cent on 2011 to 8.04 million, said the Federal Statistics Office in a statement on Friday.
The population first reached the eight million mark in the summer of 2012 and almost 40,000 additional people came in the months until the year’s end, according to the office’s definitive population statistics for 2012.
Since 2009 the annual population rise has been hovering at around one per cent. Nevertheless, migration still plays “the main role” in the growth of the resident population, the office said.
Four fifths of people arriving in Switzerland came from Europe and there was a marked increase in immigrants to Switzerland from the south of the continent in particular, with economic crisis-hit countries such as Greece (up by 44.8 per cent), Spain (up by 36.2 per cent and Italy (up by 28.1 per cent), posting the biggest rise.
Bye bye Switzerland
The number of people leaving Switzerland, however, grew 7.7 per cent in 2012, reaching 103,900 people (compared with 96,500 in 2011). Observers say this is the highest rate since the early 1990s in which 117,000 people left the country due to the economic crisis.
The rate was 0.9 per cent up among the Swiss, and 10.7 per cent up among foreigners.
The favoured destinations for the Swiss leaving for pastures new were France, Germany and the United States.
Among the foreigners, emigration in 2012 compared with 2011 rose the most among the Poles (42 per cent), Montenegrins (35 per cent) and the Portuguese (9.1 per cent).
The Germans – whose large immigration to Switzerland has caused much debate in the German-speaking part of the country, particularly over cultural misunderstandings – came in fourth at 8.8 per cent.
swissinfo.ch and agencies