It is that time of year again! And as one year ends and with the New Year just around the corner, our team thought it might be interesting to take a look at some facts about Switzerland and how things have changed in the last 10 years. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
The population of Switzerland is growing. And this, mostly through immigration.There are currently 4.33 million males and 4.39 million females living in Switzerland. The percentage of female population is 50.37% compare to 49.63% male population. That means Switzerland has 64.6 thousand more females than males!
The birth rate in Switzerland however is quite low at 1.46 (per woman). And with favourable living conditions such as good housing, a high-quality education system, low rates of unemployment and healthy living conditions – this means most people are now living longer. Immigration is therefore almost a requirement to finance the state social and pension systems.
The Swiss population in 2012 numbered 7.9 million. In 2022, there are now 8.9 million living in Switzerland and this figure is predicted to hit almost 10 million by 2050. The highest annual population growth rate was in 1962 at 2.57% and the lowest was in 1976 with a negative 0.76% population decline recorded.
Gross Domestic Product
The prosperous Swiss economy seems to many like an unstoppable steam train and a highly diverse economy and unique political system together form an ecosystem that is amazingly productive and resilient.
The only major question around the success of the Swiss economy is: how long can Switzerland manage to shield their “order” from a globalised world homogenising pressure?
Recent Swiss GDP figures in comparison:
- In 2012 GDP stood at US$ 692 billion for a GDP per capita figure of USD86’547. This represented a growth over the previous year of 1.21%
- At the end of 2021 the GDP figure was US$ 812.8 billion total or US$ 93’457 per capita for a growth versus 2020 of 3.69% (which was the year the Covid pandemic struck).
- GDP for 2022 is on track to be slightly higher than 2021 and Switzerland is well-positioned in the standard of living of its population, coming 4th from 53 countries in published stats.
Most employed workers in Switzerland are relatively highly educated and offer specialist services, which allows Switzerland to offer high end jobs with higher wages. Over 99% of companies in Switzerland are SMEs and the economy is diverse, which are also important factors to consider when discussing unemployment.
In 2012 the unemployment rate was 4.48%. In 2021 this rate was only slightly higher, despite the global pandemic and stood at 5.32%.
It is fair to say that politically and economically, Switzerland is a very stable country. There are no career politicians dominating the political scene in Switzerland and the political system is consensus driven.
A newly released survey by the KOF Swiss Economic Institute in Zurich, found that there as of end June 2022, there were 128.000 jobs vacant . This is the highest ever recorded by the organisation. The unemployment rate now in Switzerland (November 2022) stands at around 2% which is an historic 20 year low.
There have been many articles published recently about Swiss glaciers melting and the main reason for this is cited as being global warming – driven by carbon emissions.
In Switzerland carbon emissions produced in total and per capita have changed in a positive way in recent years:
- In 2012 – a total of 42’520 Kilotons of CO2 produced in Switzerland. This equates to 5.32 metric tons per capita.
- In 2018 the number was lower with 37’380 kilo tons of CO2 produced equating to a per capita figure of 4.36 metric tons.
Although the above can be considered a step in the right direction, there is still concern over the environment in Switzerland and the Swiss population believes that environmental pollution has increased and continues to increase. A recent Federal Statistical Office survey pointed to 61% perceiving this as a very serious or quite serious problem. In 2015, the number of those concerned was only 39%.
Switzerland is and remains a very safe country to live in and visit. According to the Global Peace Index 2022, it ranks 11th in the world for safety. One place higher than previously. Switzerland is also known as a country where law is respected and the police do their job very meticulously!
In 2012 0.56 crimes were committed per 100’000 population. This represented an annual change of -3.42 % from 2011. In 2020, there were 0.54 crimes committed per 100’000 population representing an annual change of + 1.44%.
Compared to other crime-ridden countries and cities around the world, these numbers seem almost unbelievable. Richmond in London for example is considered to be one of London’s safest boroughs. The crime rate there in 2021 stood at 57 crimes per 100’000 people and not only is Richmond the safest borough in London, it is the safest place in the UK!
The roots of immigration into Switzerland can be traced back to the Italians in the 1870s as labourers to build the Gotthard Tunnel. Between the 1870s and the 1980s more than five million Italians emigrated to Switzerland; however, the population has now shrunk to 315,000, and the figure is still falling. One example of their influence is the so-called “poor man’s cuisine” – pasta, olive oil and vegetables – which changed the traditional Swiss way of dining. Music and fashion are two other areas where the Italian influence can be seen. And without our Italian cousins, it is doubtful if Switzerland would be as rich in culture as it is today!
As mentioned under Population – immigration is almost a requirement for Switzerland to fuel its economic system. With an ageing Swiss population, and a low birth rate, immigration plays a key role in supporting state social and pension funds.
In 2022 around 200’000 immigrants are expected to arrive in Switzerland, pushing the population towards the 9 million mark. This although the net migration rate for Switzerland in 2022 is 4.865 per 1000 population, a 6.14% decline from 2021.
According to Federal Statistics, currently nearly 60% of the population of Switzerland does not have a migration background (defined by the FSO as all foreign nationals and naturalised Swiss citizens, except for those born in Switzerland and whose parents were both born in Switzerland, as well as Swiss citizens at birth whose parents were both born abroad). However nearly 40% of the population does now have a migration background.
Switzerland has the oldest policy of military neutrality in the world and has not participated in a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815. But neutrality does not mean Switzerland doesn’t have a military in place and spending is still abundant!
- Switzerland military spending for the defence budget for 2020 US$ 5.7billion which represents an 11.5% increase from 2019.
- The military spending budget for 2019 was US$ 5.11 billion which was a 9.96% increase from 2018!
And part of the Swiss defence strategy is to build bunkers. One interesting fact is that Switzerland now has 374,142 Bunkers (could be more!) – some large some small – some private – some public.
Living in Switzerland, it is interesting reflecting back and seeing what changes have occurred in recent years. The biggest observation is that the population of Switzerland has increased rapidly and immigration is fuelling this growth. And although migration is a necessary support mechanism for the Swiss economy, it is also a conduit for social change. With now nearly half the population of Switzerland having some migration connection, this is bound to have an effect on society as a whole in Switzerland. As we have seen with our Italian friends, this can be a really positive experience! And in this context, we wish all of our readers all the very best for the coming year ahead!
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