minimum wage in GenevaIn an effort to combat rising poverty rates caused by Switzerland’s COVID-19 economic recession, the canton of Geneva has voted to implement a minimum wage of $25 an hour, which is roughly equal to $4,100 a month according to the 41-hour Swiss workweek. Reportedly, the highest minimum wage in the world, the vote came after recent media footage showed thousands of people waiting for food aid, thus highlighting the city’s apparent struggle with poverty. Low-wage service workers and vulnerable groups, such as undocumented workers, who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic stand to directly benefit from the initiative to increase the minimum wage in Geneva.

The Minimum Wage Argument

Minimum wage hikes are a longstanding, though controversial method to combat poverty. Pro arguments for minimum wages state that it increases the overall standard of living, boosts worker morale, and, if the wages are good enough, moves people out of poverty. On the contrary, economists have noted that the well-meaning increase can actually create job loss, increase inflation and labor market competition, thereby adding to poverty rates. Opponents in Geneva used this claim of job loss to sway the vote against the initiative but the attempt was responded to by Alexander Eniline of the Swiss Labour party as “baseless.” Though it is important to note the number of people in a household and how many of them work, studies show that minimum wages can reduce poverty when coupled with in-work benefits or other national policies aimed at supporting low-income households. With this in mind, Switzerland’s extensive social security coverage and welfare policies may be strong enough to offset the negative effects of a minimum wage increase.

Details of the Minimum Wage in Geneva Vote

This proposal to introduce a minimum wage to Geneva was not the first of its kind. In 2011, then again in 2014, the measure was widely rejected by the canton. Similarly, the most recent vote which was proposed through the country’s popular initiatives ballot on September 27, 2020, barely passed, with 42% of voters against the implementation. Media reports question whether Switzerland’s economic fallout following COVID-19 and the surprising response to free food distribution have pushed the vote over the edge.

On one side, Michael Grampp, a chief economist in Switzerland, stated, “It definitely helped push the vote towards almost 60%,” while Mauro Poggia, Geneva State Counselor, did not agree that COVID-19 had a large impact on the vote. Though the pandemic’s amount of influence remains unclear, the wage increase has been viewed as a collective act of solidarity with the city’s growing poor population.

The wage increase comes into effect on November 1 and will benefit 30,000 low-wage workers, which amounts to about 6% of the canton. According to Groupement Transfrontalier Européen, which is an organization supporting cross border workers, two-thirds of those benefitting will be women.

Increasing Minimum Wage: Is it Enough?

Standing as one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world, the minimum wage initiative is estimated to be barely enough to push Swiss workers above the poverty line. While $25 an hour may seem high when compared to the U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25, Geneva’s average cost of rent for two people is roughly $3,250. This leaves less than $1000 left for food, utilities and other necessities.


Though Switzerland’s strong social security policies have kept the economic effects of COVID-19 from devastating Geneva, the city’s population is hopeful that the measure of increasing minimum wage in Geneva will give low-wage workers another boost. Campaigners have called it a “step towards equality” and a more “dignified” way of living.

– Anastasia Clausen
Photo: Flickr

SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland
Switzerland is a landlocked nation, directly intertwined within Europe’s great powers: it borders Italy to its south, France to the west, Germany to the north and Liechtenstein and Austria to the east. Switzerland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, ranking consistently among the highest of all nations with regards to GDP per capita at roughly $82,000 in comparison to a global average of slightly under $11,500. It is also home to excellent infrastructure and a reputation for timeliness. Moreover, it can boast that it is one of the few nations that has actually managed to have eradicated poverty within its borders according to Sustainable Development Goal 1. Here is some information about SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland.

Sustainable Development Goal 1 and Income in Switzerland

Part of Sustainable Development Goal 1 prioritizes increasing incomes of people across the world, such that they may work to earn at least $1.90 per day. Switzerland has found massive success reaching SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland: according to the 2020 Sustainable Development report, less than 0.1% of all Swiss citizens fall into this category. Indeed, when expanding the scope of the Goal and its expectations to $3.20 per day, Switzerland still maintains a rate of less than 0.1% of its citizens living within this category. 

If anything, this is a testament to the Swiss tradition of higher education. Studies have demonstrated that higher education frequently leads to higher incomes, resulting in Swiss policymakers improving access to, and quality of, education throughout the nation. Indeed, Swiss schools are receiving recognition as among the best in the world at every level: elementary, secondary and post-secondary. Given the role of education in breaking the cycle of poverty, Swiss excellence in education has been remarkable in establishing the nation’s role as a major financial hub across the world.

The Veil of SDG Goal 1 in Switzerland

However, even if one thinks that poverty does not exist in Switzerland, it is extremely real and is largely a function of the country’s extremely high cost of living. In the canton of Geneva, a law passed requiring a $25 per hour minimum wage, the highest in the world. The push for Switzerland to implement this wage was largely as a result of exacerbated inequalities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Likewise, while the 2020 Sustainable Development report notes that the poverty rate after taxes and transfers has decreased over time — a sign that the welfare system, as well as the overall governance of Switzerland, is extremely strong — it still stood at 9.1% as of 2015, the last year data was available.

Swiss Solidarity

Non-governmental organizations have been present in Switzerland to help its most vulnerable citizens get out of poverty. Swiss Solidarity, an umbrella organization working to coordinate the efforts of 26 smaller groups, has donated more than 50 million Swiss francs to improving the lives of Swiss citizens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This money focused on buying more temporary housing for the homeless during the pandemic, as well as the elderly and those facing a precarious financial situation prior to the pandemic.

The scope of Sustainable Development Goal 1 is so narrow, only measuring nations by the number of people living under $1.90 per day, $3.20 per day and the post-taxes and transfers poverty rate. If one looks at poverty through the lens of Sustainable Development Goal 1, then,  it appears that Switzerland has completely eradicated every single form of inequality and poverty within the nation. However, that is simply untrue, as nearly 10% of Swiss people can attest to.

– Alexander Bloukos
Photo: Flickr

hunger in switzerlandSwitzerland is a well-off country with a high standard of living and a low poverty rate. While poverty does exist within the country, food security is not much of a concern due to strong welfare programs. This is because hunger in Switzerland is an issue that the government takes seriously and works hard to improve.

Life in Switzerland

Switzerland has a high overall standard of living, but this comes with a high cost of living that can alienate impoverished people. Both Zurich and Geneva are some of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live. Even against other developed countries with similar standards of living, Switzerland is expensive. The average total household expenditure in Switzerland is about 60% higher than the average of the European Union.

The price of living in Switzerland is steep. Swiss health insurance is mandatory by law, monthly rent is relatively high, and transportation and grocery costs are significant expenses. Switzerland also boasts some of the highest salaries in the world, which offsets the costs of living. However, of the 7.9% of Swiss residents living below the poverty line— about 660,000 people—still struggle to afford what they need. However, poverty in Switzerland is relatively low. Government welfare programs help impoverished people get back on their feet.

Welfare Programs in Switzerland

Hunger in Switzerland is rare due to the fact that Swiss welfare payments cover necessities such as food, clothing, housing, health insurance, and other personal needs. Upwards of 270,000 Swiss residents receive some sort of welfare, distributed at the cantonal level to residents living below the country’s poverty line. This amounted to about $2.85 billion spent on welfare throughout the entire country in 2018.

There are several guidelines about who qualifies for receiving welfare and how welfare benefits can be spent. They include housing within a certain price range, cars covered for health reasons or jobs inaccessible by public transport, and welfare not covering expenses for pets. Welfare recipients are not eligible to become Swiss citizens while receiving welfare or for three years after (although the wait is longer in some cantons).

The social assistance programs work to ensure Swiss residents are receiving the help they need to survive and get back on their feet. 8% of welfare recipients need help for six or more years, 20% require assistance for only one or two years, and about 50% receive welfare for less than a year. Aggressive and good quality welfare programs ensure that hunger in Switzerland is a very rare and easily fixable issue.

Global Food Security and Hunger Worldwide

While hunger in Switzerland itself is not much of an issue, Switzerland works hard to assist global food security.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership for agricultural research.  CGIAR is one of Switzerland’s 15 priority organizations for global development. It supports research in 80 countries on food quality and sustainable natural resource management. The goal of their research is to stabilize agricultural production and food supply for a rising global population. The Swiss Federal Council renewed its contributions to the CGIAR in 2019, pledging to contribute CHF 33.1 million or $35.9 million in the 2020-21 period.

Switzerland is dedicated to supporting other countries in facing food insecurity, as shown by the town of Basel which put together the event “Basel Gegen Hunger” in June of 2018. This was the second annual event for the campaign. The event raised funds and brought awareness to the hunger crisis in South Sudan. In six weeks, the residents of Basel raised more than CHF 53,000—close to $60,000—for people affected by the famine.

Hunger in Switzerland is low due to its comprehensive welfare programs. However, the Swiss are dedicated to fighting global hunger. Switzerland addresses hunger domestically and globally through agricultural research, giving money, and spreading awareness.

Kathy Wei

Photo: Flickr

poverty eradication in Switzerland
The Central European nation, known as Switzerland, may have a reputation for being a country full of bankers while holding nearly the highest GDP per capita. However, an ignored (and perhaps somewhat surprising) problem about the country is poverty. Though Switzerland has a relatively generous social benefit program, in addition to great schooling — those who do not quite fit the seemingly “well off” stereotype end up struggling. Moreover, for these people, the country’s very high cost of living exacerbates the problem. Innovations in poverty eradication in Switzerland, both public and private, have done solid work to help remedy the complex problem of poverty, to a certain extent.

Swiss Solidarity

One of the private aid organizations, which are currently influential in Switzerland, is “Swiss Solidarity.” This private organization is not only crucial in helping Swiss citizens who fall into poverty, but also citizens of other nations, abroad. One of the key examples of how this innovative, private aid organization operates is through direct monetary assistance to its citizens.

Swiss Solidarity has a program titled, “Severe Weather Assistance Program” that directs funds to disadvantaged individuals within Swiss society affected by severe weather. This fund for natural disasters is vital in creating a strong social safety net that stops people from going into unbridled bankruptcy — if and when disaster strikes.

In addition to their specific programs, Swiss Solidarity partners with many other organizations that attempt to fight poverty and its downstream effects. Swiss Solidarity officially partners with 26 NGOs, including Save the Children Switzerland, SolidarMED, Swiss Red Cross and Nouvelle Planète, among others.  This cooperation between organizations helps to maximize the effectiveness of their outreach.

Switzerland’s Successful Programs and Policies

Though Switzerland does not have a generous welfare state, like some other Western European countries and the United States, Switzerland leverages the power of prudent policy decisions to reduce poverty within the country. One of the key policy decisions that Switzerland has implemented is called a “social insurance” program. In Switzerland, every business and citizen pays into this program. The program covers things such as sickness, disability and other tragedies that might put people out of work. Alternatively, in other nations, disability or sickness may plunge people into poverty without much hope for relief.

Another of the key innovations promoting poverty eradication in Switzerland is its brilliant foresight concerning public policy. Switzerland actively tries to write legislation that preemptively addresses the roots of poverty — rather than trying to focus on alleviating at the back end, when millions of lives already experienced despair. Also, Switzerland places a very high priority level on education and makes sure that each child has access to quality education. This, in turn, serves to point them toward a field in which they can work and support themselves.

These are just two examples of how both private and public industries can evolve to help the poor in Switzerland. Specifically, Switzerland’s culture of shared responsibility and relative cosmopolitanism helps private organizations thrive. Moreover, foresight and intelligent planning make public governance work best for all of the people. Both of these factors are innovations in poverty eradication in Switzerland that also help increase overall well-being within the country.

– Zak Schneider
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

poverty in switzerland
The media often refers to Switzerland as one of the wealthiest countries, a country that others “look to as a model in ‘liberal-market economy’ within Europe.” Many positively know Switzerland for its place in the human development index (HDI), overall being quite stable and prosperous in developments regarding wealth and happiness. Despite this, it still requires aid to support hundreds of thousands in Switzerland struggling to make ends meet, with the poverty index having grown from 7.5% in 2016 to 8.2% in 2017. Here is some information about poverty in Switzerland.

The Poverty Line

The poverty line, although low in comparison to the population of 8,651,647, affects more than 660,000 per year as of 2018. Around 3.2% of those people are reliant on welfare from the government. The welfare that they receive is better known as the ‘basket of goods,’ a monthly payment to provide for basic necessities. Basic needs include food and clothes, for which individuals will receive CHF1,000 ($961.70), as well as CHF1,000 for housing and CHF200 ($192.34) for health insurance as of 2020.

Welfare is not the only aid that the government offers. Persons who receive welfare may also have to meet with a budget advisor to help improve financial stability. Depending on personal status, one may have to continue looking for work or join an integration program.

People 18 and younger along with those who are 64 and older are more likely to struggle with poverty in Switzerland. Those older than 64 struggle the most as a result of lack of education, ability to work and limited resources. For many, life continues despite living paycheck to paycheck.

NGOs in Switzerland

There are 26 total NGOs providing assistance in Switzerland and neighboring countries. Caritas Switzerland is one of them, and is working to “reduce poverty in half.” Caritas is a global organization, with the goal to reduce poverty globally as well as provide emergency relief and post-natural disaster reconstruction. Caritas emerged in Switzerland in 1901, working to provide aid for those experience financial disadvantages such as single mothers, retirees and refugees. Caritas has been able to provide assistance to those battling with hunger, hygiene and humanitarian aid.  Additionally, it offers resources for debt relief education and income support.

Though the poverty line in Switzerland is significantly low, predictions determine that the rate of poverty will increase in the upcoming years. With the support of many NGOs, there is hope for the future. HEKS/EPER implemented 248 projects in 2019 to provide aid in Switzerland and 32 other countries in need. HEKS/EPER raised CHF31.2 million through donations from organizations and foundations as well as income from services, with a goal to assist social distress, poverty and post-natural disasters.

HEKS/EPER also created the project HEKS Wohnen, a program to assist those who may be socially disadvantaged find living quarters. Wohnen has the ability to provide a home and daily assistance if necessary. To date, it has helped 95 persons, with 93.7% of those having positive outcomes with families or persons finding sustainable housing and independence.

Despite projections that Switzerland’s poverty line will increase within the next couple of years, the support of NGOs such as HEKS/EPER, Caritas Switzerland and government welfare reform programs has presented positive opportunities to provide aid and assistance to those living in the country. Switzerland may have the ability to decrease its poverty projections with the support systems in place.

– Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in SwitzerlandMany know Switzerland for its high standard of living and hail its healthcare system as one of the best in the world—in fact, it often ranks as one of the top 10 healthcare systems worldwide. However, while healthcare in Switzerland is universal, it is not free or public, which makes it very expensive.

How It Works

All residents pay for their own health insurance. Unlike other countries, healthcare does not receive funding from government taxes. Even children and retirees must have their own individual health plan. The Swiss government mandates that health insurance providers cannot reject applicants for any reason and that all insurance providers offer a basic level of healthcare coverage to ensure that all citizens can obtain insurance.

The basic level of health insurance is identical across all Swiss insurance providers, covering expenses such as general check-ups and treatments, prescription costs, vaccinations, hospital visits and more. A basic healthcare plan covers around 80-90% of a person’s medical costs.

Health Insurance Companies

The role of health insurance companies in Switzerland is complicated. As private companies, they are competitive and seek profit. However, since law dictates that they all have to offer the same medical services under the mandatory basic health insurance, companies have limited competition.

Healthcare insurance companies have decreased in number within the past 20 years, from over 1,000 to less than 100. Their influence on political decisions is high since many government officials represent and defend their interests.

Pros and Cons

The Swiss government legally requires anyone staying in Switzerland for over 90 days to acquire health insurance, no matter the total length of stay. Healthcare in Switzerland is expensive, and people pay for most treatments out-of-pocket rather than receiving reimbursement later.

Switzerland’s high healthcare costs partially come from the fact that the government-mandated private insurance premiums largely fund the healthcare system. Healthcare providers charge more money from individuals to cover medical costs and business expenses since the government does not fund healthcare.

However, healthcare standards are high and citizens can receive excellent quality care across the country. Since basic healthcare is mandatory for all residents, every person has an entitlement to the same coverage and standard of care.

Swiss health insurance companies cannot deny insurance or charge inflated insurance rates for those with pre-existing conditions. Depending on customers’ age and insurance package of choice, some health insurance companies also will charge the same fee for the duration of the residency in Switzerland. Insurance rates may not increase even in the event of sickness or injury.

Comparison with Other Countries

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) compared healthcare in Switzerland with healthcare in the 37 other OECD countries. It found that Switzerland’s model of universal health insurance coverage provides a wide variety of medical services and high patient satisfaction, but the percentage of Switzerland’s GDP that goes towards health is the second-highest in the OECD area.

Other OECD countries perform equally as well or even better in terms of healthcare at a lower cost. Switzerland spends the highest GDP, around 12%, on healthcare in comparison to other European countries. Swiss residents also spend an average of 10% of their salary on health insurance.

– Kathy Wei
Photo: Unsplash

Eight Facts About Education in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the leaders in education within the European Union. With a national initiative to have accessible education to all of its citizens, the Swiss education system ranks number six on the Study E.U. education ranking of 2018. So what exactly is it that allows for such a praiseworthy education system? These eight facts about education in Switzerland show why the country is so successful in the education of its people.

8 Facts About Education in Switzerland

  1. Canton School Systems: Each canton – a Swiss state – has primary responsibility for how the schools in their area are run. Effectively each canton runs their own education system, though there is an overruling federal educational system: The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Each canton can create its own structures such as school calendars and education plans. There is, however, an agreement among the cantons to keep a baseline level of continuity. This opens individuals up to the ability to shop the public schools that fit their own and their child’s needs.
  2. International Schools: Switzerland has a host of schools that cater to international families, operate bilingually or are privatized. This creates a smoother transition for English speaking individuals who can then benefit from education in Switzerland.
  3. Number of Schools: There are currently around 44 schools in Switzerland that specifically accommodate international students and are a part of the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS). This schooling goes from primary up to secondary and offers both day and boarding options. Many of the schools follow the Swiss canton curriculum, but many also provide curriculums based on the individual’s home country.
  4. Homeschooling: Homeschooling is not a common practice within Switzerland; some cantons have even outlawed it. In August 2019, the Swiss supreme court rejected a mother’s appeal to the right to homeschool her child. It declared “the right to private life does not confer any right to private home education.” The court also stated that the cantons have the right to decide what forms of schooling they will allow and are in the best interest of the children that reside within their districts. Only 1,000 children receive homeschooling throughout all of Switzerland, a country with more than 8.5 million citizens. Many are against homeschooling in Switzerland because they believe it to be a deprivation to the child’s social education. They believe that a child can only achieve this through daily peer interactions. Further, many believe that homeschooling causes inequality within society because not every family can afford its costs.
  5. Compulsory Education: Education in Switzerland is compulsory for all who reside in the country, regardless of legal residency status. Though it varies by canton, most children have mandatory education for 9 to 11 years. Children begin schooling anywhere from ages 4 to 6 and must stay in school until about the age of 15. Education is typically more sympathetic to the individual in Switzerland. Switzerland has adopted the idea that every child learns differently and requires different support structures within school.
  6. Formal, Vocational and Apprenticeship Training: After their compulsory education, children have the option to continue on with formal education or begin vocational and apprenticeship training. Even though attending a university is comparably more affordable in Switzerland than in other countries, many students opt for vocational and apprenticeship education. Apprenticeships and vocational training can last anywhere from two to four years and can equate to a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This depends on the duration and weekly hours of involvement in the individual’s education.
  7. Specialized Education: Special education in Switzerland is a right. Specialized education professionals give individuals living with special needs free support until the age of 20. The cantons vary but typically offer special needs students access to both mainstream schools and special needs schools. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASIE) assesses children before entering the special education system. It does this in order to determine and advise parents on what may be best for their child. Switzerland joined the EASIE in 2000 in an attempt to better integrate its special needs citizens into mainstream society.
  8. Free Schooling: Schooling is free—kind of. Though compulsory education is free, it does equate to higher taxes for citizens. Further, schools often ask many parents to help with providing school utensils for the classrooms. Many argue that Switzerland’s excellent educational system is because of the country’s vast amount of wealth and higher tax rates. After all, in 2019, a global report listed Switzerland as the wealthiest country in the world, accounting for 2.3 percent of the world’s top 1 percent of global wealth.

Switzerland’s educational system is the ultimate goal for what education should be across the world. These eight facts about education in Switzerland show how the country is striving to create a more learned and prosperous future for its youth. Switzerland is a fantastic example of a country that has met the fourth goal on the global goals for sustainable development: quality education.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Switzerland
Switzerland is a great example of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth can lead to a multitude of positive outcomes. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Switzerland

  1. The cost of living in Switzerland has been historically high. The value of the franc increased when the country switched to a floating exchange rate in the 1970s. In addition, Bern, Zurich and Geneva, were ranked among the most expensive 15 cities in the world according to the 2016 Mercer Index.
  2. However, the net financial wealth of the average household in Switzerland is $128,415, compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments average of $90,570. The net adjusted disposable income for the average household sits at $36,378 compared to the OECD average of $30,563. Switzerland ranks third on the scale of the highest amount of disposable income in Europe.
  3. Overall poverty is low. Just 6.6 percent of the population lives in poverty and only 4.6 percent live in extreme poverty. The rate of poverty has been decreasing steadily since 2007.
  4. Health care in Switzerland has gained a reputation of its own. A combination of private, subsidized private and public health care systems have no wait-lists, boast highly qualified doctors, hospitals and medicals facilities with the best equipment seen around Europe. However, the universal health care system is not free, nor is it tax-based. The out of pocket payments and mandatory swiss health insurance premiums are pricey for the individual. Swiss health insurance is reported to cost around 10 percent of the average Swiss salary.
  5. Switzerland has a high-quality education system as well. The country comes in ninth place out of 65 countries in a survey of educational standards among 15-year-olds. Unlike most countries, Switzerland has a decentralized education system where the 26 cantons are primarily responsible for the system as opposed to the federal government. Education has a multilingual focus, which encourages international students and the option for public, private, bilingual, and international schools.
  6. The country has a life expectancy of 83 years old from birth, which is three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. The life expectancy is high despite the slightly higher than average level of atmospheric pollutants that are damaging to the lungs. Reports measure the rate of pollutants at 14.5 micrograms per cubic meter, whereas the average is 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter.
  7. Switzerland ranks below average in civic engagement. The country has one of the lowest levels of voter turnout in the OECD at 49 percent. The gap between voters is large as well. Fifty-nine percent of the top 20 percent of the population participates, in comparison to 41 percent of the lowest 20 percent of the population. This is a wider gap compared to the OECD average.
  8. Crime continues to be on the decline. In fact, in 2017 crime fell by more than 6 percent. Burglaries are the most offenses in Switzerland, making up two-thirds of the reported criminal offenses. While burglary also decreased by 6 percent, police threats and cybercrime were reported to rise last year.
  9. Childcare has typically been expensive. As a result, a temporary programme has set out to increase the number of child care facilities in the country. This will increase the number of options parents have for childcare and lower the rate as supply and demand will encourage competition of lower prices.
  10. Overall, the Swiss are much more satisfied with their living conditions. The country scored a 7.5 out of 10 on the scale for satisfaction compared to the OECD average of 6.5.

These top 10 facts about the living conditions in Switzerland show how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth has a positive domino effect on other aspects of life. Not only do people live better, but they feel happier and enjoy a closer sense of community. Addressing global poverty does much more than just save lives, it betters the individual, the country, the economy and their impact on the rest of the world.

– Mary Spindler 
Photo: Flickr

top 10 switzerland

Switzerland is a great example of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth can lead to a multitude of positive outcomes. It is a country full of history, rich culture and magnificent mountains. Recently, the country has popped up on the radar as its general state of living has risen to a considerably high level. Many have started to consider moving to the alpine country as a result. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Switzerland

  1. The cost of living in Switzerland is extremely high. The value of the franc increased when the country switched to a floating exchange rate. Bern, Zurich, and Geneva were ranked among the most expensive 15 cities in the world.
  2. The high cost of living isn’t a huge problem for Swiss citizens as the net financial wealth of the average household in Switzerland is $128,415, compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments reported an average of $90,570. The net adjusted disposable income for the average household sits at $36,378 compared to the OECD reported an average of $30,563. This means that Swiss households have over $6,000 more to spend per year on goods and services. Switzerland was placed third on the scale of the highest amount of disposable income in Europe.
  3. Overall poverty is low. Only 6.6 percent of the population is reported to live in poverty, and only 4.6 percent live in extreme poverty. The rate of poverty has been decreasing steadily since 2007.
  4. Healthcare in Switzerland has gained a reputation of its own. Their combination of private, subsidized private and public healthcare systems experience no wait-lists, highly qualified doctors, hospitals and medicals facilities with the best equipment seen around Europe. However, the universal healthcare system is not free, nor is it tax-based. Health insurance in Switzerland is mandatory, and the out of pocket payments and monthly premiums are pricey for the individual. Swiss health insurance is reported to cost around 10 percent of the average Swiss salary.
  5. Switzerland has a high-quality education system as well. The country comes in at nine out of 65 countries in an educational standards survey given to 15-year-olds. Unlike most countries, the Swiss have a decentralized education system that is not paid for by the government. The 26 member states that make up the country are primarily responsible for the system. Education has a multilingual focus, which encourages international students and the option for public, private, bilingual and international schools.
  6. The country has a life expectancy of 83 years, which is three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. The life expectancy is high despite the slightly higher than average level of atmospheric pollutants that are damaging to the lungs. Reports measure the rate of pollutants at 14.5 micrograms per cubic meter, whereas the average is 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter.
  7. Switzerland ranks below average in civic engagement. It has one of the lowest levels of voter turnout in the OECD at 49 percent; whereas, the reported average is 69 percent. The gap between voters is large as well. Fifty-nine percent of the top 20 percent of the population participates, in comparison to 41 percent of the lowest 20 percent of the population. This is a larger gap than the average.
  8. Crime continues to fall to lower rates in Switzerland. In fact, in 2017, crime was down by more than 6 percent. Burglaries are the most common offense in Switzerland, making up two-thirds of the reported criminal offenses. Burglaries had also decreased by 6 percent, but police threats and cybercrime were reported to rise last year.
  9. Childcare was also quite expensive in Switzerland. As a result of this, a temporary programme has set out to increase the number of child care facilities in the country. This will increase the number of options parents have for childcare and lower the rate as supply and demand will encourage competition and lower prices.
  10. Overall, Swiss are much more satisfied with their living conditions than most. They scored a 7.5 out of 10 on the scale for satisfaction, compared to the OECD average of 6.5.

Switzerland is doing quite well. The economic growth along with the decline of poverty rates have resulted in better childcare, education, rates of disposable income and increased safety. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Switzerland act as a clear paradigm of how addressing poverty and encouraging economic growth has a positive domino effect on other aspects of life. Not only do people live better but they also feel happier and enjoy a closer sense of community. Addressing global poverty does much more than just save lives, it betters the individual, the country, the economy and the impact on the rest of the world.

Mary Spindler

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in SwitzerlandHuman rights have always been a hot topic for the global community. Hence, when countries seem to get it right, we all can’t help but go to the old search bar to find out for ourselves whether human rights in Switzerland is that good.

Multiple internationally-acknowledged measures create a positive image of human rights in Switzerland. In 2016, Switzerland ranked third in the human development index, a composite index set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to measure human development according to life expectancy, access to education and gross national income.

They were ranked first in the gender inequality index (GII), another UNDP project, which looks at development from the view of gender inequality. It measures gender inequality by reproductive health(maternal mortality and adolescent birth rate); gender empowerment; the number of seats women hold in Parliament; female secondary education and female labor force participation.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly on the topic of human rights, Switzerland ranked second on the human freedom index. This index tries to be as comprehensive as possible, taking into account 79 clear indicators of personal and economic freedom in multiple areas such as the rule of law, religion, movement and expression.

The above information highlights the importance that the Swiss government and people place on human rights in Switzerland. A quote from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation(SDC) says, “sustainable development is only possible if fundamental human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, and the rule of law are respected. These rights form the basis of international cooperation. This fact is why the promotion of human rights is a critical issue for the SDC.”

Indeed, human rights in Switzerland exceeds the norm in several areas, but that does not mean it is perfect. For instance, in reaction to the influx of migrants going to Europe, the country provides asylum to a few thousand refugees, resettling them across the country. One town mayor boasted that his town was “safe and idyllic” and that this would continue because “no refugees were there.” The mayor went so far as to pay a $300,000 penalty than to accept the federal quota of eight refugees in a town of two thousand.

Furthermore, according to Amnesty International in September, the Lower Chamber of the federal Parliament adopted a bill to ban the use of full-face veils at the national level. At the end of the year, the bill was still pending. It all goes to show that while human rights in Switzerland in comparison to others may seem ideal, like many other things in life, nothing is perfect.

Finally, Switzerland is ranked fifth on the corruption perception index, where over two-thirds of countries out of 176 scored less than halfway on their scale: “no country gets close to a perfect score.”

Obinna Iwuji
Photo: Flickr