What does Switzerland spend all its money on?

A new report explains where the country spends its money and how its expenditures compare with the European Union’s.

What does Switzerland spend all its money on?
Michele LIMINA / AFP

The report released on Thursday by the Federal Office of Statistics (FSO), shows that in 2018, the last year for which official numbers are available, the country’s spending increased by 1.7 percent compared to 2017, to reach 232.6 billion francs.

In several areas, the Swiss spent a bigger percentage of overall expenditure than EU nations.

For instance, they invested more in education (including vocational training that combines academics with work experience) than their European Union counterparts — 16.5 percent of the total expenditure against 10.2 percent average in the EU.  

They also spent a bigger percentage of their budget on public administration —13.7, which is slightly higher than the 12.7 percent in the Union. The role of public administration is to develop and implement government policies at various levels.

Switzerland also invested 11.7 percent in ‘economic affairs’, while the EU spent 8.9 percent on this category, which includes employment, agriculture, transport and communication.

On the other hand, European Union members have spent a higher percentage of their overall budget – 42.1 percent on social protection system, while the Swiss allocated 39.4 percent to this budget item. 

Defense costs took up 2.4 percent of Switzerland total spending, against 2.9 percent in the EU.

Other sources such as Eurostat show more areas where Switzerland’s contributions far outweigh those of EU nations': over 12 percent of the country’s GDP goes to pay for health care — more than the European average of 9.9 percent. 

By international standards, public debt in Switzerland has traditionally been low, while public finances have consistently been in surplus.

“Switzerland’s public spending is part of a sustainable fiscal policy”, the government said,  adding that “in an international comparison, Switzerland's public finances rank amongst the best in terms of solidity”. 

READ MORE: It's official! Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world


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Swiss to post budget surplus for 2011

Switzerland is expected to report a budget surplus for 2011, despite spending 870 million francs ($985 million) to dampen the impact of the strong Swiss currency on its export-led economy.

“For 2011, the Federation forecasts a surplus of 1.4 billion francs instead of the budgeted deficit of 0.6 billion francs,” said the Finance Ministry in a statement.

“The improvement is due largely to higher than expected income in the past year,” it added.

Nevertheless, the ministry noted that after strong growth in the first half, certain fiscal receipts “fell sharply in the third quarter.”

In particular, tax revenues from mineral oil products and tobacco fell as the franc strengthened sharply against major currencies, it noted.