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A fifth of Swiss can’t cope with an unexpected expense of 2,500 francs

In 2015, 21.7% of Switzerland’s population was unable to cover an unexpected expense of CHF 2,500 within a month, says a report from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office.


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Single parent families were the least able to cope with 46.1% of them falling into this camp. Single parent families were followed by single people under 65 (27.1%) and two-parent families (24.0%). Among couples with no children only 12.2% would struggle to cover an unplanned payment of 2,500 francs within one month.

The ability of a household in the EU-28 to cover an unexpected expense amounting to a fraction (1/12) of the poverty threshold, about 116 euros in Romania and 1 764 euros in Luxembourg, varied hugely between countries.

Across all nations the rate was 37.3% with wide variations ranging from less than 27.0 % in Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Malta and Sweden to more than 60.0 % in Hungary, Cyprus, and Latvia.

Risk of poverty, another measure, defined as an income less than 60% of the median put 14.6% of the Swiss population at risk. 19.8% of single people, 24.1% of solo parents, 12.9% of couples with children, and 12.1% of couples without children were at risk. The risk for solo parents with a child under 18 rose to 30.8% and for those with two or more kids it was 31.6%. Others more likely to be at risk were renters, 19.8% compared to 8.3% of home owners, Italian speakers, 31% compared to 16.4% of French speakers and 13.0% of German speakers, and foreigners, 22.5% compared to 12.1% of Swiss.

Where foreigners came from mattered. Only 11.6% of those from northern and western Europe were at risk, while 22.4% for southern Europe were, and 30.8% of those from other countries were.

The risk-of-poverty income threshold for a single person in Switzerland in 2015 was CHF 30,073. For a couple with two children under 14 it was CHF 63,153. And for a single parent with two children under 14 it was CHF 48,116.

A European report in 2015 calculated that 17.3% of the EU-28 population was at risk of poverty on the same measure, higher than the Swiss figure of 14.6%. The highest at-risk-of-poverty rates were observed in Romania (25.4 %), Latvia (22.5 %), Lithuania (22.2 %), Spain (22.1 %) and Bulgaria (22.0 %). The lowest were in Finland (12.4 %), Slovakia (12.3 %), Denmark (12.2 %), the Netherlands (11.6 %) and the Czech Republic (9.7 %).

More on this:
Swiss income and living conditions 2015 (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
People at risk of poverty or social exclusion – Eurostat (in English)

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Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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