For members


Why getting Swiss citizenship can be worth up to 10,000 francs per year

Immigrants to Switzerland who became naturalized citizens saw their earnings rise significantly compared to those who did not obtain the passport, a study showed Wednesday.

A Swiss passport. Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash
A Swiss passport. Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Average annual earnings were 13.5 percent greater for immigrants 15 years after they narrowly won naturalization through a local referendum, equal to about 5,500 Swiss Francs ($5,500), against immigrants who lived in the country but were unable to obtain nationality.

“These findings support the argument that citizenship can alleviate some of the labor-market discrimination that impedes immigrant integration,” wrote the authors of the paper that appeared in the journal Science Advances.

Dominik Hangartner, an associate professor of public policy at ETH Zurich and one of the study’s co-authors, told AFP that some employers saw citizenship as a credential that an immigrant plans to stay in Switzerland.

READ MORE: How to apply for Swiss citizenship

“At least some employers treat this as signal that these are people who are successfully integrated,” he said.

Switzerland was a particularly useful country to study because of its system of naturalization referendums, in which residents of cities or towns vote to decide whether immigrants should receive the status.

The system is used by around a third of the country’s more than 2,000 municipalities.

In 46 German-speaking municipalities, until 2003, these votes were held by secret ballot as opposed to a show of hands, allowing the researchers to access the ballots and determine who won citizenship by a narrow margin and equally who lost it by a narrow margin.

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland will your citizenship application cost you the most?

They combined this with data from the applicants’ mandatory pension contributions to find people who were economically comparable at the start of the so-called “natural experiment” and to track how their income changed.

The researchers wrote that looking at applicants who narrowly won or lost the status through this process allowed them to eliminate selection bias, “since such close cases can be tipped one way or the other by current events or even the weather and are essentially arbitrary” or in effect randomly assigned.

The team looked at almost 4,000 applicants for naturalization between 1970 and 2003.

Winning citizenship proved especially beneficial for marginalized groups such as immigrants from Turkey and Yugoslavia, who saw their earnings rise by an average of 10,000 Swiss Francs annually over the 15 years.

“What citizenship does is that it helps to come closer to what Swiss natives with similar education and similar productivity would earn,” said Hangartner, and it helped strengthen communities by increasing tax revenues and reducing welfare spending.

“Citizenship does help to get closer to closing the gap,” he said.

A version of this story was first published in December 2019. 

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For members


Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Sure, there are many adverts on the internet that claim to offer cheaper this and that, but more often than not, clicking on the link could cost you even more money (and time). However, there are also credible sites in Switzerland that will actually help you spend less.

Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

When you live in an expensive country like Switzerland, getting more bang for your buck (or franc) may seem like an impossible feat.

Some residents of border areas save money by shopping for groceries in France, Italy, or Germany, where most products are much cheaper.

But not everyone in Switzerland has access to these stores and some people may actually prefer to support their own economy, even if it costs more.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

These six sites will not help you save money on everything, but they will help you in that direction. is an independent comparison platform that provides well-researched and impartial information on best deals in a variety of areas.

They include lowest prices for insurance (health, life, travel, car, and others); properties (including loans and mortgages); vehicles; and mobile phone and internet plans.

You can also find price comparison for various electronics; toys; beauty and wellness services; car and motorcycle accessories, and other products and services. is another, though similar, cost comparison website, where lowest prices for banking, insurance and telecom services can be found.

Like Comparis, Moneyland will often produce reports ranking certain products and services, such as healthcare and insurance plans, which can give you a valuable insight on how to save in Switzerland. 

We can’t tell you which of the two resources is better; visit both and see which one fits your needs. Both have a English-language pages, as well as producing reports in Switzerland’s national languages. 

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

This comprehensive portal also lists prices for hundreds of products in a wide range of categories, including electronics; household items, and appliances; clothing and jewellery; and even wine.

You can get good deals on wine if you look around. Image by Holger Detje from Pixabay

This site compares prices of items ranging from foods to body care products at Coop, Migros, and Lidl.

The prices may not always be up to date (and may change as the war in Ukraine and inflation progress), but the site will nevertheless give you a good idea of which products are cheapest where.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Consumer sites

While these websites aim primarily at protecting and defending consumer rights, they also have some useful information on how to save money on various purchases.

For instance, the Swiss-German chapter, Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz has advice on how to save on customs taxes when purchasing goods online in foreign countries.

In the French speaking cantons, Féderation  Romande des Consommateurs has information on where in the region you can pick your own strawberries and save money while doing so, and in Ticino, Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana has similar information.

If you visit these consumer sites regularly, you will find helpful advice on how and where to spend less on certain products and services at that particular time.

Find out where picking your own strawberries will save you money. Photo: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

And then there is this…
If you want to know how much the price of communal services such as water and waste management is in your commune and how it compares with other Swiss municipalities, you can check it out on this official government website.
It doesn’t tell you per se how to save money on these services but it is a useful resource nevertheless.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?