Map of Vienna with the ICEC cast study profiles marked

Map of Vienna with the ICEC cast study profiles marked

An Overview of the socio-demographic structure of Vienna

Vienna currently has 1,741,246 residents, with a growth of 8.2% over the past ten years. The population is 48% male and 52% female, with almost 20% under 20 years old and 22.2% over the age of sixty. Of the whole population of Vienna 68% were born in Austria. Of those not born in Austria, 73.3% do not hold an Austrian passport, that is, 23% of the total population. Another way of measuring migration is to consider “migration background” (defined as either being born abroad or holding a foreign passport, or having both parents meet these criteria), in which case 38.4% of the population qualify.

Migration and Diversity in Vienna

Despite not considering itself an immigration country, Austria, and particularly Vienna, has a long and rich history of immigration and diversity dating back to Vienna’s time as the capital of the vast and multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. During this period, large numbers of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian and Polish immigrants came to Vienna, something still reflected by the typical Viennese surnames today that reflect this heritage. After the Second World War a large number of refugees and “displaced persons” were integrated into the Austrian population.

Beginning in the 1960s, so-called “guest workers” were recruited to Austria from Yugoslavia and Turkey to meet the demand for workers caused by Austria’s fast-growing economy. Although initially intended to be only short-term migration, many of the workers stayed, leading to a later period of immigration characterised by family reunification, family members coming to join the original migrants in Austria. The demand for the foreign workforce however fell dramatically, halving between 1975 and 1985.

Profound political and economic changes in the in Europe in the early 1990s and Austria accession to the EU in 1995 opened borders and increased migration to Austria and Vienna. The fall of the Iron Curtain also meant that East-West migration flows were once more possible and the Balkan Wars led to an influx of refugees and a rapid rise in the number of asylum seekers. Twenty-first century migration has so far been characterised by a large number of German students and young professionals (Germans have been the largest migrant group since 2009), highly qualified Romanian and Bulgarian personnel, and a return of Slovakian, Czech and Polish migrants to their countries of origin due to rising demand in their national economies.

In 2013, 51% of the population in Vienna was ‘native Austrian’ (two parents born in Austria) and one out of three inhabitants was foreign born. The largest immigrants groups (foreign born or foreign citizens) were:

  • Former Yugoslavia (9%)
  • Turkish (4.3 %)
  • Asia (4.1%)
  • Germany (2.9%)

(Source: 3. Wiener Integrations- & Diversitätsmonitor, Stadt Wien 2014, pp. 37)

The Urban Immigration Dimension

The city of Vienna has always been the main destination for international migrants coming to Austria. The City of Vienna however did not have an explicit integration or diversity policy until the 1980s and 90s, focusing heavily on integration measures such as German language to compensate “integration deficits”. The first anti-discrimination law in Vienna was passed in 2004, banning discrimination based on the grounds of racial, ethnic, religious, ideological or sexual orientation and saw public housing become available to migrants for the first time.

The number of foreign-born people in Vienna has risen continuously in recent years from roughly 7% in the 1980s, to between 10% and 15% in the 1990s, to the current level of 23%. In 1991, migrants tended to live in a fringe of old working-districts with levels of foreign-born inhabitants of up to 25%, especially those districts separated from the inner city districts by the ‘Gürtel’, a road of heavy traffic and public transport, and in Leopoldstadt (2nd District). Twenty years later, this segregation has become more pronounced and three districts (2nd, 12th, and 20th) have more than 35% foreign-born inhabitants and a further three (10th, 15th and 16th) have more than 50%. Settlement patterns and segregation takes on a different picture too when the countries of origin are taken into consideration; immigrants from European Union member states are more likely to settle in the more affluent areas of the inner city and the ‘cottage’ areas, whilst former guest workers from Turkey and former Yugoslavia and their families are more likely to live in the western working class districts.

Case Study Neighbourhoods

For much more detailed information about the socio-economic context of immigration in Vienna, please refer to the ICEC Baseline study on Super-Diversity and Urban Policies in Vienna, Austria.

The project partners in Vienna, the capital of Austria, have identified three neighbourhoods for further study: