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Social benefits Swiss pay more welfare than big EU states

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Purchasing power for those receiving Swiss benefits is high compared to other nations.

(Christof Schuerpf)

Social benefit payouts in Switzerland reached a record level in 2016, but actually the wealthy nation spends less of its GDP on welfare than other countries do.

Switzerland is the frontrunner if the payouts are measured in Purchasing Power Standard (PPS), an artificial currency unit. In 2016, Switzerland spent 11,105 PPS per capita on social benefits, making it the biggest spender in terms of expenditure, as Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Officeexternal link reported on Tuesday.


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However, Swiss welfare spending as a whole is rather stingy compared with its gross domestic product (GDP). In this group of countries and context, only Spain spends less.


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There is a noticeable difference in the sources of financing. In Switzerland, 23.7% of social benefits come from the public coffers; the figure in Italy and Britain is over 48%.

In Switzerland the main source is employers and insured persons, at 66.1% of the costs. They pay in more social security contributions than in the five largest EU countries. In Germany and France, 60-64% of social benefits come from these sources; in Britain it’s just 38.1%.

In all six countries, old age and health are the largest budget items.


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