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Switzerland’s workforce participation – Swiss versus foreigners

© Arturoosorno |

In 2018, 68.5% of the nation’s residents aged 15 or older was working, 1.5% more than in 2010.

This rise was largely driven by an increase in the percentage of women in the workforce. In 2010, 60.0% were working. By 2018, 62.9% were, a rise of 2.9%. On the other hand, the overall percentage of men working declined slightly (-0.1%) to reach 74.2% by 2018.

Swiss versus foreigners
Overall, foreigners were much more likely than Swiss to be working. In 2018, 76% of foreigners over 14 were working compared to 66% of Swiss, a difference of 10%.

The difference between foreign men (82%) and Swiss men (71.5%) was 10.5%. Between foreign women (69.1%) and Swiss women (62.1%) the difference was 7%.

The biggest driver of this difference was the differing age profiles of these groups. When viewed by age band, Swiss were more likely to be working across all age groups. The difference was particularly large for 55 to 64 year olds. 77% of Swiss in this age group were working compared to only 69.5% of foreigners. The next biggest difference was among those over 64. 12.5% of Swiss in this age group were working compared to only 8% of foreigners.

So, the overall higher participation rate among foreigners was driven not by higher workforce participation but by the relative youth of its population. After 64, workforce participation rates plummet. In 2018, more than 90% of those aged 25 to 54 were in the workforce. By the age of 65 only 12% were. Because a relatively higher percentage of Swiss are over 64 their overall participation rate gets dragged down.

Another notable difference was the relative percentages of mothers and fathers working. Swiss mums with children aged 0 to 6 were 25% more likely to be in the workforce, a difference which narrowed to 5% once children were aged 7 to 14. Swiss fathers of children 0 to 6 were 1% more likely to be working than foreign ones, a difference that increased to 4% once children were 7 to 14 years old.

Additionally, foreigners were far less likely to work part time. 73% of the foreign workforce worked 90-100% compared to only 59% of Swiss workers. 15% of Swiss worked less than 50% compared to only 9% of foreigners.

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Investec is a distinctive Specialist Bank and Asset Manager. We provide a diverse range of financial products and services to a niche client base in three principal markets, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia, as well as certain other geographies. Investec’s strategic goals are motivated by the desire to develop an efficient and integrated business on an international scale through the active pursuit of clearly established core competencies in the group’s principal business areas.
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