Longitudinal analysis of migratory trajectories. The case of German migrants in Switzerland

Ilka Steiner, University of Geneva

The principle of free movement of persons, which entails to all individuals the right to move, travel, study and work anywhere within the EU/EFTA, led to more temporary and circular forms of migration (e.g. Faist 2008). EU/EFTA citizens also have the right to settle and retire anywhere within the EU/EFTA, raising the question of how temporary and circular the current migration patterns actually are. Surprisingly, migratory trajectories, in particular of recent migrants within the EU/EFTA, have rarely been studied. Yet, without an understanding of those dimensions we are left with an inadequate analysis of these new settling and migration dynamics. This study will contribute to the literature by examining the migratory trajectories of German migrants living in Switzerland. So far, no longitudinal data, covering recent migratory flows, was available in Switzerland. Together with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, we established a longitudinal database, using record linkage and a deterministic data matching approach of three official data sources: the Statistic of the resident population of foreign nationality, the Population and Households Statistics, and, due to a lack of socioeconomic and household characteristics in the first two sources, the Structural Survey (i.e. the new form of the population census). Our paper first presents the construction of this new database. Secondly, we analyse the migratory trajectories of German residents, who arrived in Switzerland between 2002 and 2011. Therefore, we consider the settling process and the demographic behavior of different types of migrants (students, workers, retirees, etc.), regarding civil status changes as well as internal migration. Finally, a special focus lies on emigration, in order to evaluate how temporary and, in case of recurrent immigration, how circular current migration patterns really are.

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Presented in Session 111: International migration: moving on or moving back?