People in Switzerland work 26 percent less than 30 years ago, study finds

People in Switzerland work 26 percent less than 30 years ago, study finds

A new report by the Tages-Anzeiger has found that people in Switzerland are working fewer hours than ever before. As of 2022, the average Swiss worker spends around 31 hours a week on the job, 26 percent less than in 1990.

Working week in Switzerland one of the shortest in the OECD

According to the data, produced by the Swiss government and reported by the newspaper, the average adult in the alpine nation works around 1.495 hours a year. In comparison to the rest of the OECD, Switzerland has a shorter working week than 75 percent of countries in the bloc - for those interested, workers in Germany have the shortest average, only spending 1.332 hours on the job per year.

When holiday leave and weekends are accounted for, the working week in Switzerland is only 31 hours - the equivalent of just less than four days of 9 to 5 graft. Average working hours have decreased significantly in the last 70 years: in 1990, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) found that people worked 42 hours a week on average, and in 1950, the average working week was 49 hours. 

Men and trained professionals in Switzerland are working less

Stefan Wolter, Professor of Education Economics at the University of Bern, told the Tages-Anzeiger that the main reason for the decline is that men and highly trained professionals are choosing to take jobs with part-time or hybrid work contracts, while women continue to work less. Last year, the number of men working part-time rose to 20 percent, while around 50 percent of women still work part-time.

"Men have only just discovered part-time work for themselves and will continue to strive for it… If today's parents don't spend at least one day with their children, they're considered bad fathers," he claimed. Wolter added that while part-time work is good for wellbeing, the trend will only make the skills shortage in Switzerland worse and put extra strain on the social security system.

Wolter: training professionals will no longer benefit Swiss pensions

For example, Wolter made the point that a fully qualified doctor working full time pays around 500.000 Swiss francs of their salary into the pension system during their lifetime - money they will never fully draw out themselves but that will instead be used to subsidise others. Now, as doctors can “afford” to work less, less money will be paid into the system.

Wolter argued that if highly educated people continue to work fewer hours and pay less tax, the Swiss university system - where the majority of tuition fees are heavily subsidised by the government - will no longer be “value for money” for taxpayers at large. He concluded that if trends continue, the government should pass a law that requires university graduates to work at least 70 percent of lifetime working hours in order to pay for their tuition, or else face a fine.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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