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Statistics Foreigners in Switzerland have lower quality of life

mountain and Swiss flag

It's not all hikes and lakes for many foreigners in Switzerland.

(Keystone / Thomas Hodel)

Swiss residents who have foreign roots, especially foreign nationals, have a much lower quality of life on average than native Swiss people, according to new statistics. But nuances between different groups of foreigners exist.

In 2018, 38% of residents in Switzerland, or 2,686,000 people, had a migration background, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) reported on Tuesdayexternal link. This represents a 1.5% increase on 2017. The most common nationalities among this group were (naturalized) Swiss (36%), Italian (10%), and German (10%).

The FSO said there is a link between having a migration background and achieving a high quality of life – measured along both objective (housing, education, work situation, etc.) and subjective (reported satisfaction) criteria.

The general trend is that native Swiss have a better quality of life than the immigrant-origin population, while within this latter, it’s also better to be naturalized Swiss than not.

However, the FSO also establishes distinctions within this non-Swiss group, saying that citizens of northern and western Europe have above-average conditions, while those from eastern Europe and from non-European countries have a worse quality across the board. 

This group has a lower level of education, insufficient social relations, financial difficulties and worse health – four factors that can also complicate their entry into the job market and their income potential, the FSO wrote.

This group also reported higher than normal levels of stress and dissatisfaction, as well as difficulties in accessing housing.

Across all nationalities and origins, the report also noted that unemployed people face the most difficult challenges when it comes to securing a decent quality of life.

The term “population with a migration background”, as defined by the statistical office, refers to anyone – foreign nationals, naturalised Swiss citizens, as well as Swiss citizens at birth – whose parents were both born abroad. 


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