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


The second segmentation relates to the level of education of the households and is presented in columns 4 and 5 of Table 7. The same pattern observed for Geneva appears in Zurich between the dwellings inhabited by the low vs. the high educated individuals: on average household heads with low education level live in relatively smaller dwellings (in terms of surface per room and occupation rate of the dwelling surface) and of relatively lower standard. On average 14 per cent of the individuals with low education live in publicly owned building, while only 7 per cent of them live in private-owned buildings.

Finally, as reported in the last columns of Table 7, the segmentation between foreigners and Swiss with low education level shows a similar pattern as the one between low and high educated individuals.

5 Conclusion

In this paper, we performed pairwise comparisons of housing conditions between Swiss and foreign residents, between high and low education individuals and between Swiss and foreign residents with low education. First we tested whether these groups mingle uniformly over the territories of the canton of Geneva and the city of Zurich. Not surprisingly, they do not, but the dissimilarity indices are relatively small. Even measured on a fine hectare grid, they do not exceed 40 per cent, the highest segregation being that of low education foreigners, who are actually more segregated from low education Swiss than high education Swiss and foreigners. Exposure indices indicate that residents with high education level are most concentrated, closely followed by high education Swiss. All these indices are very similar in Geneva and Zurich.

We pursued the pairwise comparisons on a large number of descriptors of dwellings and neighbourhoods. Of course, it is not always obvious to relate a descriptor to ‘quality’ or ‘comfort’. Nevertheless, there emerges a picture, both in Geneva and Zurich, where foreigners, individuals with a low level of education, and particularly foreigners with low education attainment live in dwellings of relatively lesser quality on average as compared respectively to the Swiss, high educated and Swiss with low education level. This result is in accordance with Arend (1991) and Wanner (2004), who found that among foreigners, some might be particularly discriminated, since they live in dwellings of poor condition, underequipped, and even exposed to excessive air and noise nuisances.

We should however emphasize that differences in housing conditions do not necessary imply discrimination. Indeed, households living in dwellings of com- paratively lower quality could be compensated through lower rents. In that case, they enjoy lesser comfort because they chose or were forced to spend less for it. At first glance, this does not appear to be the case of the foreigners with a low educa-

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