The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Resident population grows by 1.6 percent in 2023

Updated at 04 Apr 2024 9:40 am

Switzerland's permanent resident population grew by 1.6% in 2023 compared to the previous year. At the end of last year, it comprised just over 8.96 million people, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Thursday.

The permanent resident population thus grew almost twice as fast as in 2022, when the FSO recorded an increase of 0.9%. This means that growth has not been as marked as in 2023 since the early 1960s.

All cantons recorded an increase in population. The cantons of Valais (plus 2.4%), Schaffhausen and Aargau (plus 2.2% each) recorded the largest increase. The smallest increase was in the canton of Jura at 0.9%.

People seeking protection are part of the resident population

According to the provisional figures, around 2.42 million foreigners lived in Switzerland, a share of 27%. At 5.2%, the foreign resident population grew faster than the Swiss population (0.4%) and twice as fast as in 2022. The FSO attributes the increase in part to people seeking protection from Ukraine, who became part of the permanent resident population in 2023.

After slowing down during the pandemic years, immigration has picked up again since 2022. In 2023, 263,800 people immigrated, 38.2 percent more than in the previous year.

22,100 immigrants were Swiss nationals, 241,700 were foreign nationals. 53,100 immigrants were people with protection status S from Ukraine. They accounted for a good fifth of all immigrants.

Net migration doubled

Emigration was down slightly at 0.5 percent. 121,600 people left Switzerland, 30,700 Swiss nationals and 90,900 foreign nationals. As a result, net migration - the difference between immigration and emigration - rose from 68,800 in the previous year to 142,300 in 2023.

This explains 95 percent of the population growth in 2023, meaning that net migration grew by 106.9 percent. Excluding Ukrainians, this would have resulted in an increase of 29.6 percent.

Compared to 2022, 1.8% fewer Swiss nationals emigrated, but 1.4% more immigrated. Immigration of foreign nationals increased by 43%, while emigration remained unchanged.

37.3% of the total net migration is accounted for by Ukrainian asylum seekers counted as part of the resident population. The largest share of 44.9% is made up of people from EU/Efta countries.

Historic low in births

On average, a woman gave birth to 1.33 children last year. That is a historic low. In 2022, it was still 1.39 children. According to the FSO, the birth rate has been falling sharply for two years. A total of 79,800 children were born in 2023, 3.1 percent fewer than in the previous year.

This means there were 9 births per 1000 inhabitants (2022: 9.4). The decline in births affected all cantons except Basel-Stadt, Uri, Jura, Obwalden, Lucerne and Appenzell-Innerrhoden.

In 2023, 71,700 people died, 3.7% fewer than in the previous year. This brought the number back down to pre-coronavirus levels. The main reason for death is age. According to the FSO, 88% of deaths were among people aged 65 and over. Between 2022 and 2023, the life expectancy of men at birth rose from 81.6 to 82.3 years and that of women from 85.4 to 85.9 years.

5 percent growth through births

The difference between the continued high number of deaths and the low number of births resulted in a birth surplus of 8,200 people, which accounts for a small part of 5 percent of the population growth. In twelve cantons, more people died than were born.

Last year, 37,500 couples got married, 8.3 percent fewer than in 2022, compared to 15,500 divorces, a decrease of 4.3 percent. This figure includes same-sex divorces for the first time, namely 41. If the trend continues, the FSO expects that two out of five marriages will end in divorce.


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