Regional disparities of German immigration to Switzerland

Ilka Steiner, University of Geneva

Since 1997, Germans have been the largest immigrant group in Switzerland. 8’200 new arrivals are registered in 1998, a number that reached 46’300 in 2008. The major reason for this increase is the ratification of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the European Union in 2002 and the economic growth encountered by the former at the turn of the XXIth century. Little is known about the socio-demographic and professional profile of German immigrants to Switzerland and even less about their distribution within the region. However, the repartition and the demographic impact of German immigrants within the Swiss territory underlie a spatial selectivity. In this context, we describe, based on the Swiss Labor Force Survey and the Swiss Aliens Register, the regional socio-demographic and professional characteristics of German immigrants who arrived after 2002 in Switzerland, in order to illustrate spatial selectivity of immigration in different regions. In a second step, the demographic impact in the selected regions is assessed. Analyses showed that labor market regions that are situated in the Swiss-German speaking part or in the borderland to Germany accounted for the highest numbers of immigrants. The migrants’ profiles and their turnover however depended on different factors such as the type of municipalities – the turnover was much smaller in commuter and suburban communes than in touristic regions – on the qualification level and the occupation held – qualified persons, and above all, scientists presented a high disposition to re-migrate – and finally age and life course, since retirees or married couples and families presented a lower probability to leave the country than other "more independent" migrants. Therefore, Swiss regions encounter, depending on the “type” of German migrant that they attract, a different demographic development.

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Presented in Poster Session 2