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Head count Swiss expat community hits 760,000

The number of Swiss Abroad citizens grew by 1.1% to reach 760,200 at the end of last year. Most live in neighbouring countries and in the United States.

The expatriate community accounts for 10.6% of the total number of Swiss nationals, according to official statisticsexternal link published on Thursday. Nearly three-quarters of the Swiss Abroad have dual nationality.

The most significant increase compared with 2017 was recorded in Europe with 1.5%, while Africa was the only continent where the Swiss Abroad community decreased (-0.5%).

Infographic about the expatriate Swiss community
(Kai Reusser / swissinfo.ch)

The statistics reveal that 62% of expat Swiss live in Europe, ahead of North America (24%) and Asia (7%), Oceania (4%) and Africa (3%). Neighbouring France remains the most popular destination (25.9%), followed by Germany and Italy.

 Among English-speaking countries, the United States is top with 80,400 expatriates, followed by Canada with about 40,000, Britain with 35,700 and Australia with 25,100. Despite uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Swiss community in Britain recorded the biggest increase in 2018 (+2.7%).

Age and gender

One in five Swiss Abroad, that is 162,000 people, is over the age of 65. The oldest expat Swiss community lives in Hungary (55% are over 65), followed by Thailand (33%), Spain (32%), Portugal (28%) and South Africa (27%).

The US has the highest percentage of expatriate Swiss above the age of 79 (8%). Canada, Britain and Italy with 7% each are also slightly above the overall average of 6%.

The gender distribution in the age group above 65 also varies. While there are roughly as many women as men with Swiss passports in Hungary, Portugal and South Africa, Swiss men clearly outnumber Swiss women in Thailand: 26% of men against only 7% women. However, the relations are reversed in Spain with 12% Swiss men against 30% Swiss women.


Adapted from French/urs, swissinfo.ch

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