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Measuring integration

Birthplace plays a role in success

Integration is measured by more than just waving the flag (Keystone)

Integration is measured by more than just waving the flag


Factors such as income, education and family structure vary greatly among Swiss people, Swiss-born foreigners and those born outside the country, according to new figures aimed at measuring the integration of foreigners.

As part of a project commissioned by the federal government in 2007, the Federal Statistics Office is gathering and analysing data about how well foreigners have integrated. According to Swiss law, foreigners who are legally in the country long-term have the right to the same economic, social and cultural opportunities as native Swiss.

The first batch of statistics released Monday show that foreigners born in Switzerland are the least likely to have a university degree. Only 16.9 per cent of them do, compared to Swiss people born abroad (26.6 per cent) and foreigners born abroad (31.3 per cent).

Young, foreign-born residents who aren’t Swiss are the most likely to leave school at an early age – 22.8 per cent of them do. Conversely, just four per cent of native-born Swiss and nearly 12 per cent of foreigners born in Switzerland leave school early.

When it comes to family structures and support, foreign-born mothers have it hardest, as they work full-time more often than their Swiss-born counterparts. Fathers tend to work full-time no matter their nationality.

Variations in health and social support

Foreigners also tend to feel less healthy and less well supported by the government in times of need. For example, foreign-born people are more than twice as likely to forego seeking necessary medical care for financial reasons than people born in Switzerland.

On average, a person born in Switzerland also makes more than Sfr6,000 more ($6,400) in income than someone living in the country born eleswhere. The story is the same when one examines the poverty risk and how people make ends meet – those born abroad tend to suffer more.

The Federal Statistics Office used 16 existing data sources to generate its numbers. In all, it plans to release comparative figures in the realms of social support and poverty, criminality and security, racism and discrimination, culture, religion and media, education, family and demography, language, living situation, employment, politics, health and sport.

swissinfo.ch and agencies



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