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Immigrants make positive contributions to Swiss social system

The Local Switzerland
The Local Switzerland - [email protected] • 2 Feb, 2023 Updated Thu 2 Feb 2023 11:37 CEST
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Immigrants from the EU make positive contributions to Switzerland's public system. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Since Switzerland introduced free movement, EU and EFTA nationals have not strained the country’s public insurance system, as some critics claim.

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Switzerland and the EU signed the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), to lift restrictions on EU citizens wishing to live or work in Switzerland, in 1999. It came into force in 2002, and also applies to citizens of EFTA member states.

In their bid to limit immigration, right-wing parties have been arguing that foreigners too often abuse Switzerland’s social structure by relying on welfare instead of contributing to society.

However, these claims are false, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), as reported by Neue Zürcher Zeitung this week.

In fact, by being gainfully employed and paying into the obligatory social security scheme, immigrants have had a positive effect on the old-age AHV / AVS pension, as well as on disability and health insurance, SECO said.

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For instance, in the past they contributed 27.1 percent to the financing of the AHV / AVS, while drawing only 15.2 percent of it.

In terms of disability insurance, foreign nationals paid 26.5 percent into the scheme, receiving only 14.9 percent of benefits in return. 
With regard to the compulsory health insurance, SECO assumed "that most EU nationals in Switzerland are currently of working age and in fairly good health. They therefore represent an advantage" to the system.

There is, however, a downside as well.

In 2020, when many people in Switzerland were laid off due to the Covid pandemic, immigrants weighed more heavily on unemployment insurance. They paid 25.5 percent of contributions while receiving 32.8 percent of benefits.

This situation is not unusual though, SECO said, since more foreigners than Swiss work in sectors more prone to unemployment, such as construction and the hotel industry.

READ MORE: How foreigners are changing Switzerland

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The Local Switzerland 2023/02/02 11:37

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