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.
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.