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Switzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy and enjoys great wealth, being ranked as the wealthiest country in the world per capita in multiple rankings, while at the same time being one the least corrupt countries in the world.[104][105][106] It has the world's twentieth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-eighth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the seventeenth largest exporter. Zürich and Geneva are regarded as global cities, ranked as Alpha and Beta respectively. Basel is the capital of the pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland. With its world-class companies, Novartis and Roche, and many other players, it is also one of the world's most important centres for the life sciences industry.[107]

Switzerland has the highest European rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2010, while also providing large coverage through public services.[108] The nominal per capita GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan.[109] In terms of GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power, Switzerland was ranked 5th in the world in 2018 by World Bank[110] and estimated at 9th by the IMF in 2020,[111] as well as 11th by the CIA World Factbook in 2017.[112]

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report currently ranks Switzerland's economy as the most competitive in the world,[113] while ranked by the European Union as Europe's most innovative country.[114][115] It is a relatively easy place to do business, currently ranking 20th of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index. The slow growth Switzerland experienced in the 1990s and the early 2000s has brought greater support for economic reforms and harmonisation with the European Union.[116][117]

For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (by GDP – per capita).[118] Switzerland also has one of the world's largest

Switzerland has a stable, prosperous and high-tech economy and enjoys great wealth, being ranked as the wealthiest country in the world per capita in multiple rankings, while at the same time being one the least corrupt countries in the world.[104][105][106] It has the world's twentieth largest economy by nominal GDP and the thirty-eighth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the seventeenth largest exporter. Zürich and Geneva are regarded as global cities, ranked as Alpha and Beta respectively. Basel is the capital of the pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland. With its world-class companies, Novartis and Roche, and many other players, it is also one of the world's most important centres for the life sciences industry.[107]

Switzerland has the highest European rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2010, while also providing large coverage through public services.[108] The nominal per capita GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan.[109] In terms of GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power, Switzerland was ranked 5th in the world in 2018 by World Bank[110] and estimated at 9th by the IMF in 2020,[111] as well as 11th by the CIA World Factbook in 2017.[112]

The World Economic Forum's Switzerland has the highest European rating in the Index of Economic Freedom 2010, while also providing large coverage through public services.[108] The nominal per capita GDP is higher than those of the larger Western and Central European economies and Japan.[109] In terms of GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power, Switzerland was ranked 5th in the world in 2018 by World Bank[110] and estimated at 9th by the IMF in 2020,[111] as well as 11th by the CIA World Factbook in 2017.[112]

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report currently ranks Switzerland's economy as the most competitive in the world,[113] while ranked by the European Union as Europe's most innovative country.[114][115] It is a relatively easy place to do business, currently ranking 20th of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index. The slow growth Switzerland experienced in the 1990s and the early 2000s has brought greater support for economic reforms and harmonisation with the European Union.[116][117]

For much of the 20th century, Switzerland was the wealthiest country in Europe by a considerable margin (by GDP – per capita).[118] Switzerland also has one of the world's largest account balances as a percentage of GDP.[119] In 2018, the canton of Basel-City had the highest GDP per capita in the country, ahead of the cantons of Zug and Geneva.[120] According to Credit Suisse, only about 37% of residents own their own homes, one of the lowest rates of home ownership in Europe. Housing and food price levels were 171% and 145% of the EU-25 index in 2007, compared to 113% and 104% in Germany.[121]

Switzerland is home to several large multinational corporations. The largest Swiss companies by revenue are Glencore, Gunvor, Nestlé, Novartis, Hoffmann-La Roche, ABB, Mercuria Energy Group and Adecco.[122] Also, notable are UBS AG, Zurich Financial Services, Credit Suisse, Barry Callebaut, Swiss Re, Tetra Pak, The Swatch Group and Swiss International Air Lines. Switzerland is ranked as having one of the most powerful economies in the world.[118]

Switzerland's most important economic sector is manufacturing. Manufacturing consists largely of the production of specialist chemicals, health and pharmaceutical goods, scientific and precision measuring instruments and musical instruments. The largest exported goods are chemicals (34% of exported goods), machines/electronics (20.9%), and precision instruments/watches (16.9%).[121] Exported services amount to a third of exports.[121] The service sector – especially banking and insurance, tourism, and international organisations – is another important industry for Switzerland.

Agricultural protectionism—a rare exception to Switzerland's free trade policies—has contributed to high food prices. Product market liberalisation is lagging behind many EU countries according to the OECD.[116] Nevertheless, domestic purchasing power is one of the best in the world.[123][124][125] Apart from agriculture, economic and trade barriers between the European Union and Switzerland are minimal and Switzerland has free trade agreements worldwide. Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Taxation and government spending

Switzerland has an overwhelmingly private sector economy and low tax rates by Western World standards; overall taxation is one of the smallest of developed countries. The Swiss Federal budget had a size of 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, which is an equivalent 11.35% of the country's GDP in that year; however, the regi

Switzerland has an overwhelmingly private sector economy and low tax rates by Western World standards; overall taxation is one of the smallest of developed countries. The Swiss Federal budget had a size of 62.8 billion Swiss francs in 2010, which is an equivalent 11.35% of the country's GDP in that year; however, the regional (canton) budgets and the budgets of the municipalities are not counted as part of the federal budget and the total rate of government spending is closer to 33.8% of GDP. The main sources of income for the federal government are the value-added tax (accounting for 33% of tax revenue) and the direct federal tax (29%), with the main areas of expenditure in social welfare and finance/taxes. The expenditures of the Swiss Confederation have been growing from 7% of GDP in 1960 to 9.7% in 1990 and to 10.7% in 2010. While the sectors social welfare and finance & tax have been growing from 35% in 1990 to 48.2% in 2010, a significant reduction of expenditures has been occurring in the sectors of agriculture and national defence; from 26.5% in to 12.4% (estimation for the year 2015).[126][127]

Labour market

Slightly more than 5 million peopl

Slightly more than 5 million people work in Switzerland;[128] about 25% of employees belonged to a trade union in 2004.[129] Switzerland has a more flexible job market than neighbouring countries and the unemployment rate is very low. The unemployment rate increased from a low of 1.7% in June 2000 to a peak of 4.4% in December 2009.[130] The unemployment rate decreased to 3.2% in 2014 and held steady at that level for several years,[131] before further dropping to 2.5% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019.[132] Population growth from net immigration is quite high, at 0.52% of population in 2004, increased in the following years before falling to 0.54% again in 2017.[121][133] The foreign citizen population was 28.9% in 2015, about the same as in Australia. GDP per hour worked is the world's 16th highest, at 49.46 international dollars in 2012.[134]

In 2016, median monthly gross salary in Switzerland was 6,502 francs per

In 2016, median monthly gross salary in Switzerland was 6,502 francs per month (equivalent to US$6,597 per month), is just enough to cover the high cost of living. After rent, taxes and social security contributions, plus spending on goods and services, the average household has about 15% of its gross income left for savings. Though 61% of the population made less than the average income, income inequality is relatively low with a Gini coefficient of 29.7, placing Switzerland among the top 20 countries for income equality.

About 8.2% of the population live below the national poverty line, defined in Switzerland as earning less than CHF3,990 per month for a household of two adults and two children, and a further 15% are at risk of poverty. Single-parent families, those with no post-compulsory education and those who are out of work are among the most likely to be living below the poverty line. Although getting a job is considered a way out of poverty, among the gainfully employed, some 4.3% are considered working poor. One in ten jobs in Switzerland is considered low-paid and roughly 12% of Swiss workers hold such jobs, many of them women and foreigners.

Education in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons.[135] There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools. The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons, but most cantons provide a free "children's school" starting at four or five years old.[135] Primary school continues until grade four, five or six, depending on the school. Traditionally, the first foreign language in school was always one of the other national languages, although in 2000 English was introduced first in a few cantons.[135]

At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), pupils are separated according to their capacities in several (often three) sections. The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura,[135] while students who assimilate a little more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs.

There are 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel (with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. It is listed 87th on the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities.[136] The largest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students.At the end of primary school (or at the beginning of secondary school), pupils are separated according to their capacities in several (often three) sections. The fastest learners are taught advanced classes to be prepared for further studies and the matura,[135] while students who assimilate a little more slowly receive an education more adapted to their needs.

There are 12 universities in Switzerland, ten of which are maintained at cantonal level and usually offer a range of non-technical subjects. The first university in Switzerland was founded in 1460 in Basel (with a faculty of medicine) and has a tradition of chemical and medical research in Switzerland. It is listed 87th on the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities.[136] The largest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students.[citation needed]The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the University of Zurich are listed 20th and 54th respectively, on the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities.[137][138][139]

The two institutes sponsored by the federal government are the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) in Zürich, founded 1855 and the EPFL in Lausanne, founded 1969 as such, which was formerly an institute associated with the University of Lausanne.[note 10][140][141]

In addition, there are various Universities of Applied Sciences. In business and management studies, the University of St. Gallen, (HSG) is ranked 329th in the world according to QS World University Rankings[142] and the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), was ranked first in open programmes worldwide by the Financial Times.[143] Switzerland has the second highest rate (almost 18% in 2003) of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia (slightly over 18%).[144][145]

As might befit a country that plays home to innumerable international organisations, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, located in Geneva, is not only continental Europe's oldest graduate school of international and development studies, but also widely believed to be one of its most prestigious.[146][147]