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indicator value unit
Population 8.5 mil.
Visitors per year 8.6 mil.
Renewable energy 20.5 %

How’s Life?

Switzerland performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Switzerland ranks above the average in subjective well-being, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, health status, social connections, environmental quality, education and skills, work-life balance, housing and personal security, but ranks below average in civic engagement. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Switzerland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 37 466 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 33 604 a year. 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, 80% of people aged 15 to 64 in Switzerland have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD. Some 84% of men are in paid work, compared with 75% of women. In Switzerland, only 0.4% of employees work very long hours, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 11%. Nearly 1% of men work very long hours, compared with almost no women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Switzerland, 88% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%. This is truer of men than women, as 89% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 86% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 506 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 486. On average in Switzerland, girls outperformed boys by 3 points, slightly more than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Switzerland is 84 years, four years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 86 years, compared with 82 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 14.5 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the 13.9 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 81%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and a moderate level of civic participation in Switzerland, where 93% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 49% during recent elections. This figure is one of the lowest rates in the OECD, where average turnout is 68%; this, however, does not take into account Switzerland’s highly participatory form of direct democracy. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 57% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 41%, a broader difference than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.

In general, people in Switzerland are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Swiss people gave it a 7.5 grade on average much higher than the OECD average of 6.5.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.

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OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland 2017

Switzerland continues to provide its citizens with a high standard of living. The economy has shown considerable resilience, most recently to the exchange rate appreciation in 2015. Nevertheless, growth has been too slow to absorb spare capacity or raise income per capita meaningfully.

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Switzerland in Detail