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

Switzerland_ Education
Education in Switzerland is not only unconventional compared to many other nations but also compulsory. With a wide variety of schools ranging from local Swiss schools to private schools to bilingual schools to international schools, the education standards are extremely high and, much like Switzerland itself, anything but boring.

  1. The education system of Switzerland is largely decentralized. There exists 26 cantons, which are overseen by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). However, each canton creates and implements its own standards, which can be detrimental for families moving from one region of the nation to another.
  2. Switzerland is ranked number nine out of 65 nations and economies in a recent OECD/PISA survey of educational standards among 15-year-olds.
  3. Most of the local and international schools are free but still exist at the cost of parents’ paying extremely high taxes. Education in Switzerland is compulsory, so there really is no way for parents to sidestep paying such taxes.
  4. Compulsory education lasts for 9–11 years, with some children beginning compulsory education when they are four years old and others at six years, until about 15 years old.
  5. Since most students are educated in state schools, they will be learning in an environment that is rich in a variety of cultures, including variations in linguistic backgrounds.
  6. Like many universities in the U.S., Switzerland’s school year conventionally begins between August and September and will carry on for two periods of 12 weeks at a time.
  7. However, the times in which schools operate may be a bit stressful for working parents. Younger students will normally attend school in the morning with a break in the afternoon, which can be potentially problematic for many parents. Many schools do offer supervised lunches and after school care to alleviate such inconveniences.
  8. The structure of Switzerland’s system begins with primary education (a sort of kindergarten), then a lower secondary education followed by an upper secondary education, which may even include vocational training. The highest level, tertiary level education, is university level or higher education.
  9. Home schooling is uncommon in Switzerland. In fact, laws addressing it vary from canton to canton, and in some cantons, it is considered illegal.
  10. Most notably, children and young adolescents with special educational needs have a right to education and support from specialists from birth up until their 20th birthday. Children are assessed by specialized agencies of their canton and are given support through their school, which is also mainly free, though some special cases may vary.

Education in Switzerland ultimately exists to provide schooling for all, regardless of background or disability, a vision that embodies Global Goal number four established by the U.N. to eliminate extreme poverty.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr