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Swiss Journal of Sociology, 35 (3), 2009, 571–592


Where and How Do Swiss and Foreigners Live? Segregation in the Geneva and Zurich Housing Markets

Caroline Schaerer and Andrea Baranzini*

1 Introduction

Residential segregation and discrimination has been extensively studied in countries like the United States, which exhibit a large proportion of some minorities, often very concentrated in well-defined areas. In Western Europe, the problem of ghettos in which more than 70 per cent of the area’s inhabitants are of a given minority group is scarcer. In fact, Western European countries often comprise a mix of different minority populations (see Huttman, 1991; Harrison et al., 2005). In Switzerland, the share of foreigners amounts to about one-fifth of the total population, which makes it one of the OECD countries with the highest proportion of foreigners. Foreign population is however quite unevenly distributed over the Swiss territory, with the highest proportions being located in the urban cantons. In 2008, the share of foreign population ranges from a maximum of 38.4 per cent in the Geneva can- ton to a minimum of 9.8 percent in the canton of Uri (OFS, 2008). In addition, the composition of resident foreign population varies according to the regions of Switzerland and is often related to the different linguistic regions of the country. Broadly speaking, relatively more foreigners from Latin speaking countries are located in the French part of Switzerland, while residents from German speaking countries and ex-Yugoslavia are more represented in the central and oriental part of Switzerland (see Huissoud et al., 1999a, for a description of the distribution of foreign population in the different regions of Switzerland). Indeed, differences in lifestyles between the different socio-economic groups may explain differences in

  • *

    Geneva School of Business Administration (HEG-Ge), Center for Applied Research in Manage- ment (CRAG), University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) Acknowledgements:

We are grateful for financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, National Research Program NRP 54 “Sustainable Development of the Built Environment”. We thank the Swiss Federal Statistical Office for providing the data of the 2000 Swiss Population Census; the Geneva and Zurich Cantonal Offices for protection against noise for the noise data; the Infor- mation System of the Geneva Territory (Système d’Information du Territoire Genevois, SITG) and the Zurich GIS-centre of the office of land use regulation and measurement (GIS-Zentrum des Amtes für Raumordung und Vermessung des Kantons Zürich, ARV) for providing the GIS data. We thank Philippe Thalmann and José Ramirez for helpful remarks in a previous version of the paper. A special thank to Eva Robinson for her excellent assistance support in calculating GIS variables. None of these institutions or persons is responsible for or endorses in any way the contents of this paper.

© Seismo Verlag Zürich

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