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Almost one in ten live in poverty in Switzerland: Report

More than eight percent of Switzerland’s population live in poverty, while 12 percent struggle to make ends meet.

Almost one in ten live in poverty in Switzerland: Report
A number if people in Switzerland can't make the ends meet. Photo by Depositphotos

A study released by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Thursday shows that 8.7 percent of Switzerland’s public – around 735,000 people – live in poverty, which is defined at 2,279 francs per month on average for a single person, and 3,976 francs per month for two adults and two children.

When adjusted for purchasing power, this threshold is the second-highest in Europe, topped only by Luxembourg.

 

The numbers are for 2019, so the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet included in the data.

The poverty rate in Switzerland is the highest it has been since 2014, the study found. 

Most financial difficulties were experienced by foreign nationals, people living in single-parent households, people without training, and those living in households impacted by unemployment, FSO reports.

Here are some of the study’s other findings:

  • For the 10 percent of the population with the lowest wages, this income was less than 25,868 francs in 2019. The median income has remained stable at around 50,000 francs. 
  • The poverty rate for the employed labour force was 4.2 percent in 2019. About 155,000 people were living below the poverty line, even though they were in paid work.
  • Just over 12.2 of the population said they had difficulty making ends meet, and 20.7 percent were unable pay an unforeseen expense of 2,500 francs in the space of a month . Of these, 15.1 percent had at least one payment arrears.

READ MORE: Switzerland’s economy forecast to recover 'from summer onwards' 

On the positive side, the country’s general standard of living remains among the highest in Europe.

It is estimated on the basis of the median disposable income, after adjusting for differences in price levels in various countries. 

In Switzerland, this income was 2.8 times higher than in Greece, 1.6 times higher than in Italy, 1.3 times higher than in France, and 1.2 times higher than in Germany and in Austria.

Despite the high price level in Switzerland, the standard of living was higher in Switzerland than in most of the EU countries.


 

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COST OF LIVING

Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law. 

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