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  • Notes from the Federal Palace

90 years of statistics on the Swiss Abroad


In 1927, for the very first time, the consular service of the Federal Political Department (the FDFA’s title at the time) instructed all consulates to record the number of Swiss residing abroad at the end of the year 1926 (see illustration, evaluation list). From 1930 onwards, the figures were then published regularly in the Statistical Yearbook. Federal government had in fact collected data on its diaspora even earlier – the 1891 to 1960 yearbooks show that emigrants were recorded according to different characteristics. However, 1926 marked a new beginning. Firstly, the statistics – in contrast to those on emigration abroad – gathered data not on migratory movement but instead on Swiss citizens residing abroad. Secondly, they recorded Swiss citizens comprehensively whereas the earlier statistics only covered those in places outside Europe. (Photo: Swiss Federal Archives)

In the period after 1926 the statistics on the Swiss Abroad had to deal with “teething problems”. It appears that some shortcomings were glossed over using estimates. The increasing number of people holding dual citizenship amongst the diaspora raised the question of how this factor should be taken into account. The following solutions were found: from 1951, the Statistical Yearbooks simply stated that persons holding multiple citizenship were not included; then in 1974 they began listing them separately alongside “solely Swiss citizens”.

The FDFA’s current statistics on the Swiss Abroad and the FSO’s migration statistics can be viewed on the FDFA website.