Why Is Switzerland the World's Most Immigrant-Friendly Country?

I have to say I was pretty surprised the first time I saw this OECD graph, which shows the foreign-born as a percentage of total population [Click for full size]:

Why was I surprised? Because it’s relatively hard to become a citizen of Switzerland. But that was me thinking a path to citizenship and residency and work rights were a kind of logical package deal. And that’s wrong. So maybe Switzerland’s lack of birthright citizenship and relatively arduous naturalization process help explain their receptivity to immigration. I don’t know. And I don’t know about Swiss welfare eligibility rules either. (Anyone?) But it now strikes me that my initial surprise was probably misplaced.

That said, it doesn’t seem all that tough to become a citizen of Australia, another America-shaming immigrant haven, although it does seem that getting born in Australia is no longer good enough.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center