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EXPLAINED: Just how 'rich' are the middle class in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Just how 'rich' are the middle class in Switzerland?
More than half of Switzerland's residents belong to middle class. Photo: Pixabay

It is a common misconception that everyone in Switzerland is wealthy. But in fact, most of the country’s population is part of the middle-income class.


The term ‘middle class’ consists of people whose income falls between the low-earners and the wealthy.

In this sense, this segment of the population is…in a class of its own. They are neither poor nor very wealthy which, all things considered, is not a bad place to be.

How many people in Switzerland fall into this group?

Nearly 60 percent (57.6 percent to be exact) of the permanent resident population fall under this category, according to recent data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). 

Interestingly, this is a lower percentage than in some other European countries, like neighbours Germany (75 percent) and France (72 percent), for instance. 

However, there is a reason to explain this disparity (read more about this below).

How much do members of Switzerland’s middle class earn?

All people from households whose gross income is between 70 and 150 percent of the median wage are middle-classes, according to FSO.

The median salary, in turn, indicates the boundary between the bottom 50 percent and the top 50 percent. In Switzerland, this wage is 80,000 francs a year (or just over 6,666 francs a month).

READ ALSO : Can a family in Switzerland live well on a median salary? 

To be part of the middle class in Switzerland (again according to FSO figures), you must have an annual income of between 47,640 and 102,000 francs if you are a single individual; and between 100,000 and 214,400 francs a for a couple with two children.

These figures explain why the proportion of the middle class in Switzerland is lower than in other nations: it is because the income threshold for this group is significantly higher.

As an example, middle class couples with two children in Germany have an income of between €36,698 (35’160 francs) and €97,860 (93,765 francs) a year — quite a bit lower than the Swiss averages.


Does this mean that middle class in Switzerland is well off?

It depends.

Avenir-Suisse, a think tank for social and economic issues, found that "the Swiss middle class is doing very well economically compared to other industrialised Western countries."

How well exactly depends on factors such as these people’s spending habits, inflation rate, cost of living, as well as purchasing power in your region.

READ ALSO: Swiss cantons with the highest (and lowest) purchasing power


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