More Swiss choosing to live abroad

Increasing numbers of Swiss citizens are choosing to move overseas, according to the foreign ministry. The exodus has picked up significantly in recent years, with more than 580,000 Swiss now living abroad.

This content was published on August 11, 2000

The latest figures, released on Friday, show that the number of Swiss choosing to emigrate has steadily increased over the past 10 years.

In the past 12 months, nearly 7,500 Swiss set off to seek a new life abroad.

Since 1990, 126,000 Swiss have emigrated, with around 60 per cent choosing to settle in the European Union. Most opt for France, which has a Swiss expatriate population of over 150,000.

Rudolf Wyder, the director of Swiss Abroad, says one major reason for the growing emigration numbers is that people move away to study elsewhere and then carry on their lives in the adopted country.

"People leave Switzerland for educational purposes. Swiss citizens living abroad then get married and their partners may later acquire Swiss nationality. And then the families decide to have children," Wyder explained.

While Wyder believes that love is a major factor, he says people also move away for economic reasons. "The Swiss economy sends hundreds, if not thousands of people abroad every year," Wyder said.

The figures from the foreign office suggest that Swiss women are more likely to emigrate - they make up 60 per cent of the total expatriate population.

The majority of expatriates choose to become citizens of their host countries: nearly 70 per cent (405,921) now hold foreign passports.

After France, the biggest expatriate communities are in Germany (67,728), Italy (41,140), the United States (67,929) and Canada (34,192).

swissinfo with agencies

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