Ten years of exodus towards Zurich

SOCIETY

One of the factors that weighs most heavily on the demographic decline we are experiencing is migration to other cantons - Unsurprisingly, it is the city on the banks of the Limmat that is « snatching « more residents from Ticino - And among those leaving, many young people in their 20s and 30s.

Ten years of exodus towards Zurich
cdt archive

Ten years of exodus towards Zurich

cdt archive

«Brain drain» and «demographic decline». These are terms that recur more and more often in the local press. Indeed, the demographic forecasts for our canton are not very rosy: in 2020, Ticino is one of the few cantons in which the population has decreased, while it is estimated that in 2050 the number of citizens in our canton will drop by around 5% compared to today.

The explanations for this phenomenon are, of course, multiple: there is the economic question (read, higher wages elsewhere or job opportunities abroad), there is the question of the aging population, there are the young people who wish (for various reasons) to study outside the cantonal borders.

Now, if we take a look at the figures regarding the demographic balance, we can gather an initial fact: two factors in particular have had a negative impact on it in recent years: the negative natural balance (i.e., the difference between births and deaths) and the intercantonal migratory balance (the difference between departures and arrivals in Ticino). The balance of international movements, by contrast, has a positive impact on our overall demographic balance. This is because, although many Ticinese choose to go abroad each year, arrivals from «outside» largely compensate for these departures.

Although the number of those who leave Ticino for foreign countries is greater each year than those who decide to move to another canton, in terms of the migration balance, the one that has the greatest impact (in a negative way) on Ticino is the intercantonal one. This is why we decided to «sift through», in greater detail, the available data regarding migration between one canton and another. This data reveals trends that are well known to all. First of all, the most popular place for Ticinese who want to move out of the canton but remain in Switzerland: Zurich.

Figures in hand, Zurich «beats» everyone in the ranking by a considerable margin. Between 2011 and 2020, 7,168 residents in Ticino moved to the banks of the Limmat, while 4,734 took the opposite route. On balance, therefore, in ten years the balance between the two cantons is 2,434 (40.9%) Ticino residents gained by Zurich. Second in the ranking, far behind, is the canton of Vaud, with a net balance of 760 residents «lost» from Ticino (12.7%), followed by Bern with 599 citizens « swiped» from our canton (12%). As we move down the ranking, we then find Lucerne (381), Graubünden (342) and Fribourg (271). The figures for the other cantons, particularly since we are talking about an entire decade, are less relevant. What is significant, however, is the fact that between departures and arrivals, the only three cantons where the balance is positive with respect to Ticino are Obwalden (in ten years between departures and arrivals we have «gained» two residents), Glarus (+14 residents) and Appenzell Ausserrhoden (+36).

It wasn’t always like this

It must be said, at this point, that for our « limited» Ticino it has not always been so. In fact, data from the Cantonal Statistics Office show a precise moment in time when the trend was sharply reversed: 2010. Until then, in fact, the migration balance between us and all the other cantons was positive: between 2001 and 2010 we had «gained» a good 4,045 residents by « taking them away» from the rest of Switzerland. Then, something changed. And even if it is only a hypothesis, at this point we cannot fail to mention the financial crisis of 2008. From that year to 2011, in fact, we went from +104 residents (in 2008) to minus 201 (in 2011). And the trend over the last 10 years has not been reversed. On the contrary, it has worsened. And so, between 2011 and 2020 we «lost» almost 6 thousand residents who moved to other cantons.

In addition, it should be noted that, albeit with forcibly lower figures, this reversal of trend can also be seen in the data concerning «only» departures between Ticino and Zurich. Suffice it to say that in 2006 the balance between departures and arrivals between Ticino and Zurich was a plus in our favor, with 141 citizens «gained». Ten years later, in 2016, the reversal: that year the balance was «minus» 432 residents.

Young people at the center

Another interesting aspect concerns the age of the departures. Taking as an example those who moved from Ticino to Zurich during 2020, we note that it is mainly young people who have taken this route. Of the total of 776 departing participants, 383 (or 49%) are in the 20-30 age bracket. Ergo: one out of every two starters is young. By way of comparison, if we look at the age group between 50 and 60, the number of starters drops to 55 (7%).

It is also interesting to note that, if we take into consideration the number of departures from Zurich to Ticino in the same year, this trend is not noticeable. Of the total of 547 departures, only 87 (15.9%) were between the ages of 20 and 30, while those between 50 and 60 numbered 82 (15%).

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