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


Secondly, from the cantonal offices of protection against noise of Geneva and Zurich, we obtained the yearly averaged daytime traffic noise, expressed in the A-weighted decibel scale (dB[A]). The data refer to the level of noise caused by road traffic, measured at some fixed points, and then extrapolated for each facade of the buildings. The daytime noise level represents the equivalent continuous noise level averaged over 15 hours. Note that since noise is often measured where the road traffic noise is suspected to be high, the average noise level in our sample may overestimate the effective average noise exposure in the regions.

As a result, starting from the Census information on 352 684 individuals for Geneva and 338 239 individuals for Zurich, keeping only information for the household’s head, merging all the information, dropping observations for which noise exposure is unreliable4, as well as a few outliers, we obtain two overall samples of 42 162 observations for Geneva and of 26 489 observations for Zurich. Note that these datasets are used in Baranzini et al. (2008) and in Schaerer (2008) to value the impact of discrimination in the housing market of Geneva and Zurich.

To analyse whether different groups live in dwellings with different charac- teristics, we propose to segment the housing market according to the household head characteristics based on three criteria, i. e. the origin (Swiss vs. foreigners), the education attainment (low vs. high) and the origin of individuals with low educa- tion level (Swiss with low education vs. foreigners with low education). We report the average living conditions for the three different segmentations in Table 6 for Geneva and in Table 7 for Zurich. The difference in the means for the dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics between the two sub-samples in each segment has been tested using pair-wise mean comparison tests. The means that are statistically different between the two samples are highlighted in bold in Tables 6 and 7.


Housing conditions in Geneva

The segmentation by origin between Swiss households and foreign households in Geneva is presented in columns 2 and 3 of Table 6. Most of the means for the dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics differ between the two samples. In particular, Swiss people live in comparatively larger dwellings in terms of number of rooms and surface per person, the latter being around 47 m2 per person in the Swiss sample and only 37 m2 per person in the foreign sample. OCSTAT (2005) also mention that the occupancy rate (number of persons per room) is larger for foreigners. Other differences are related to luxury characteristics of the dwelling, e. g. a lower proportion of foreigners live in an attic dwelling, while a higher pro-


Observations for which the noise exposure lies above 75 dB(A) are dropped because noise measures at those levels are unreliable (see acoustic literature, e. g. Miedema et al., 1998; 2001). In the same vein, we restricted our samples to the observations for which the noise levels exceeded, or equaled, 55 dB(A) during the day. These thresholds correspond to the planning regulations for housing areas in Swiss law (see Swiss Noise Abatement Ordinance, 1986, art. 43). See Baranzini et al. (2006) for a discussion.

© Seismo Verlag Zürich

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