Odd as it may seem to outsiders, the Swiss do not view wealth as their top priority... and being rich is not just a matter of money.This content was published on December 20, 2001 - 16:48
These are the findings of a representative survey on the subject of "wealth" carried out on behalf of Credit Suisse's "Bulletin" magazine.
Some 1,079 Swiss were asked which was more important: "eternal youth", "wealth" or "beauty".
Thirty-seven per cent chose "eternal youth", with 30 per cent preferring to be "rich". "Beauty" took a back seat with just seven per cent of respondents thinking looks were important.
For the Swiss, being rich implies "having enough money to live on" (12 per cent of respondents) and "financial independence" (10 per cent).
However, almost the same proportion of those questioned viewed wealth in a different light and valued their "health" (18 per cent) and "freedom" (three per cent) as highly as riches.
The survey suggests that whether a person is rich or poor is therefore not just a matter of money for many Swiss.
Are you rich?
Only 27 per cent of respondents considered themselves "rich", with the majority (63 per cent) saying they were "not rich" but had enough money.
The survey, conducted by the GfS Research Institute in Bern, found that most people who consider themselves rich are generally well educated, aged 40-49, with left-leaning political views and a monthly household income of more than SFr9,000 ($5,500).
The self-declared "not rich" tended to have a monthly household income of less than SFr3,000.
However, when it comes to assessing conditions in Switzerland as a whole, the majority (83 per cent) agreed that Switzerland is a rich country and will remain so.
It is no secret to the majority of Swiss (95 per cent) that their country is also home to poor people. Four out of five believe there are many people whose household income does not exceed the subsistence level despite having full-time jobs - the so-called "working poor".
The same number believe that poverty could be tackled by introducing a legally-defined minimum wage, with 64 per cent in favour of an increase in contributions to the needy in Switzerland.
As a contrast, more than half (54 per cent) would like to see Switzerland restrict overseas development aid to the current level or even to reduce contributions (23 per cent).
The rich get richer...
The vast majority of respondents, regardless of political bent and level of education, agree with the statement "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" both in Switzerland (94 per cent) and for the world as a whole (95 per cent).
However, opinions differ when it comes to actually defining the amount of money required for a person to be described as rich.
Most respondents (70 per cent) consider people with assets of at least SFr1 million to be rich. Only 15 per cent consider those with less to be rich.
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