Switzerland has highest number of immigrants

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría presents the OECD International Migration Outlook 2014 in Paris Julien Daniel / OECD

Switzerland was the country with the largest number of permanent immigrants per capita in 2012, according to the 2014 International Migration OutlookExternal link compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This content was published on December 1, 2014 and agencies

The foreigners who settled permanently in Switzerland in 2012 comprised 1.6% of Switzerland’s population in that year. Switzerland is followed by Norway with 1.2% and Australia with 1.1%. In comparison, the largest OECD immigration country, the United States, had a share of permanent immigrants of 0.3% in 2012.

Most of the immigrants to Switzerland came from European Union countries such as Germany, Portugal, Italy and France.

According to preliminary figures, the number of people who moved their residence to Switzerland increased to 136,200 in 2013.

In absolute numbers, Switzerland, with 125,600 immigrants, is below the OECD average. The list is topped by the US with one million, followed by Germany with about 400,000 and Britain with 285,000.

Foreign born

In another ranking of the OECD – the percentage of the population that is foreign born – Switzerland placed second, with 27.7%, topped by Luxemburg with 42.6% and followed by Australia with 27.3%.

The increasing number of people moving within the European Union as well as high skilled migration and humanitarian movements are driving the rise in migration registered in OECD countries, the organisation said in its report. It warned that migration policies need to keep pace with these changes.

“Migration policies should be a priority for OECD countries, and integration policies should be seen as the best possible investment in terms of growth, social cohesion and well-being,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría when the report was released on Monday.

“The short- and long-term costs of standing still in the face of rapidly changing needs are high,” Gurría stated. “Policy makers need to lead an open and informed debate to build confidence and ensure everyone benefits.”

Asian immigrants

The number of immigrants to western industrialised nations is little changed, at 4 million. Almost one in ten came from China, followed by 5.6% from Romania and 5.4% from Poland.

There are more than 115 million immigrants in the OECD countries today, about 10% of the total population. One in ten new migrants is from China, and one in five from Asia.

The OECD said that countries should also take into account the long-term advantages of immigration. “Countries would benefit more from immigration if they consider migrants as a resource rather than a problem, and integration policies as an investment,” Gurría said.

Germany was the top immigration destination in Europe in 2012, and according to preliminary estimates, it probably remained in second place in 2013, with about 465,000 permanent immigrants. “Germany is the engine of migration in Europe,” said OECD expert Thomas Liebig.

Three-quarters of all immigrants received by Germany are coming from other EU countries, making the country the second destination in the OECD, after the US. Several major immigration countries saw declines, including the US, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

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