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indicator value unit
Population 7.9 mil.
Visitors per year 8.6 mil.
Renewable energy 20.42 %

How’s Life?

Switzerland performs very well in overall well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Switzerland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is 30 060 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 047 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 79% of people aged 15 to 64 in Switzerland have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 85% of men are in paid work, compared with 73% of women. People in Switzerland work 1 632 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. Only 6% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 9%.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In Switzerland, 86% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 74%. This is truer of men than women, as 89% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 83% of women. This difference is higher than the OECD average and suggests women’s participation in higher education could be strengthened. Switzerland is nonetheless a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system. The average student scored 517 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 497. On average in Switzerland, girls outperformed boys by 4 points, less than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Switzerland is almost 83 years, three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 85 years, compared with 81 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 22 micrograms per cubic meter, slightly more than the 21 micrograms OECD average. Switzerland performs better in terms of water quality, as 95% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with an OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and a moderate level of civic participation in Switzerland, where 94% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 49% during recent elections; this figure is much lower than the OECD average of 72%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 61% and for the bottom 20% it is 43%, a broader difference than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points.

In general, people in Switzerland are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 82% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 80%.

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OECD in Action

Mental Health and Work: Switzerland

Tackling mental ill-health of the working-age population is becoming a key issue for labour market and social policies in OECD countries. OECD's 2014 report on Switzerland looks at how the broader education, health, social and labour market policy challenges are being tackled.

Read this report

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Switzerland in Detail