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Pandemic very much at the top of Swiss ‘worry list’

The health risk, but also the long term economic impact of Covid-19, loom large in Swiss thoughts this year. Keystone / Martial Trezzini

The insecurity brought by Covid-19 is the biggest concern for the Swiss population in 2020, an annual survey has found. Unemployment and retirement provision also weigh heavily.

This content was published on November 19, 2020 - 10:12
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Just over half of respondents to the 2020 “Worry Barometer” said coronavirus was their biggest concern, the Crédit Suisse bank said on Thursday. Retirement provision – last year’s top concern – and unemployment were next on the list, at 37% and 31% respectively.

“This is the first time in the history of the Worry Barometer that an entirely new issue has so clearly topped the list,” the bank wrote. By comparison, it said, in 2001, the year of the World Trade Centre attacks, 27% of respondents named “terror” as one of their greatest worries.

The concerns around Covid-19 are largely based on an expectation of various long-term changes that respondents felt would result from the pandemic.

On the negative side, these changes include a sense that unemployment will rise in the next three years (78% think this), that retirement provisions may be impacted (59%), and that tourism in Switzerland will suffer (51%).

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On the positive side, the prospect of more home office and the digitalisation of work was seen as a welcome change by many – as was the sense that healthcare services would benefit and that Switzerland’s location as a banking hub would be boosted.

Internationally, the respondents were also relatively upbeat: over half foresee the pandemic having a positive influence on global political and economic cooperation. However, a large majority also agreed that the government should bring manufacture of medical supplies and replacement parts “back to Switzerland”.

Steady trust

Echoing initial trends in the spring, trust also saw a bounce in 2020 compared to previous years. Most Swiss political institutions, and especially the governing federal council, saw a jump in the level of confidence they enjoy among citizens.

The police meanwhile enjoyed the highest level of confidence of citizens, at 70%.

The survey, which is in its 44th edition, asks respondents to list their top five concerns and to answer various questions about Swiss identity. This year, 1,800 citizens were polled by the gfs.bern research group between July and August.

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