Swiss to become older and more urban by 2040

The Swiss population will become older by 2040

The Swiss population is set to stagnate over the next 40 years, while a quarter of all inhabitants will be over 65 by 2040.

This content was published on February 13, 2004 minutes

The results of a study published by the Federal Statistics Office take into account an ageing population, a lower birth rate and internal migration.

The report - which examines demographic trends by canton and language region over the next four decades – predicts that the population will increase by just two per cent by 2040.

The number of people resident in Switzerland is set to peak at 7.5 million in 2026, before falling to 7.4 million by 2040.

One in four Swiss will be of retirement age by the end of the same period, and the report’s authors warn of the consequences for health, social security and living conditions.

Stéphane Cotter, of the office’s Demography and Migration section, says one reason why the population is set to increase so slowly is that women will choose to stay in work rather than start a family.

“Swiss society is still quite traditional and it’s difficult to have both a job and a family. The general conditions are not very good for families in Switzerland,” Cotter told swissinfo.

Internal migration

The study also found that internal migration from rural regions to the cities and suburbs is likely to be one of the strongest trends over the next four decades.

Cotter says this is likely to have a devastating effect on some cantons - such as Uri in central Switzerland - which is predicted to suffer a 15 per cent decrease in population by 2040.

“We’ve noticed that a lot of people are already leaving Uri to go to other places and the reason is that there is less and less work in this canton,” he observed.

Schwyz, Zug and Fribourg are likely to see the greatest increase in population, with the number of residents in all three cantons expected to rise by 20 per cent over the period concerned.

Fewer foreigners

But Cotter believes there is likely to be a decline in the number of foreigners coming to Switzerland in the future.

“We’re still going to have foreigners coming to Switzerland, but not as many as we had in the 1950s, because Switzerland is becoming less attractive,” he said, adding that the main reason for this was that the European Union was becoming economically stronger than Switzerland and would therefore attract more immigrants.

However, the foreign population is set to rise in some cantons - canton Basel City, for example, will see the number of foreign residents rise from 28 per cent in 2001 to 34 per cent by 2040.

In some cantons, such as Geneva, the number of foreigners is expected to decrease as a result of naturalisations and as people return to their countries of origin.

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold

Key facts

The population is expected to rise by just two per cent by 2040.
The number of people aged 65 and over will increase from 16% to 25%.
Some cantons - including Schwyz - will see a 20% increase in population, while others - such as Uri - will see a 15% fall in the number of residents.

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