Which Swiss cantons offer their residents the highest disposable income?

Which Swiss cantons offer their residents the highest disposable income?

For many expats, coming to Switzerland means a higher quality of life and a new job with a higher salary. However, these living standards do come at a price, as many areas of the alpine nation have a higher cost of living compared to parts of Europe. To find out which area of the country gives has the best salary-to-cost ratio, a new study from the Swiss government has revealed the cantons with the highest disposable income.

Medium incomes vary by up to 42.000 francs a year in Switzerland

According to the report, given to Watson, people in Switzerland have the third highest median income in Europe, behind only Luxembourg and Iceland. However, this wealth is not equally distributed across the country, with authorities finding that household disposable income can vary by up to 42.000 Swiss francs a year, depending on where a family lives. 

To create the report, the Federal Council calculated the average household disposable income in each canton - calculated as income once the cost of taxes, social security and health insurance are removed. The government found that more than half of Swiss cantons have a median disposable income below the national median of 51.449 Swiss francs a year - areas which included all French-speaking cantons apart from Canton Vaud and Geneva.

Which residents of Switzerland have the highest and lowest disposable income?

In all, people living in Canton Zug have the highest disposable income in Switzerland, with households earning an average of 80.102 Swiss francs a year. This is perhaps unsurprising, given Zug’s status as a place with low personal and business taxes, along with being home to a large number of international companies.

“The highest levels [of income] are found at plateau level, especially in the Zug-Schwyz-Nidwalden triangle, in Zurich, Aargau, Basel and on the shores of Lake Geneva,” the council noted. Overall, income levels have increased in all cantons by 0,91 percent between 2010 and 2018, with the exception of Geneva, where net income has fallen by 0,46 percent over the same period.

At the bottom of the list sits Canton Valais, with households earning 37.574 francs a year on average. The council explained that areas of the mountains, particularly those devoid of ski resorts, were the most likely to have lower average incomes.

Top 10 and bottom 10 Swiss cantons for disposable income

In all, the 10 Swiss cantons with the highest household disposable income (in Swiss francs a year) are:

  1. Zug (80.102)
  2. Schwyz (73.412)
  3. Nidwalden (62.612)
  4. Zurich (59.692)
  5. Basel-Stadt (57.573)
  6. Basel-Land (55.763)
  7. Geneva (53.844)
  8. Obwalden (52.997)
  9. Appenzell Innerrhoden (52.445)
  10. Aargau (52.334)

Conversely, here are the 10 cantons with the lowest average disposable income:

  1. Valais (37.574)
  2. Jura (40.415)
  3. Neuchâtel (43.693)
  4. Graubünden (44.034)
  5. Ticino (44.994)
  6. Bern (45.715)
  7. Glarus (46.167)
  8. Uri (46.402)
  9. Fribourg (46.818)
  10. St. Gallen (47.022)

To find out more, and to see how other cantons faired, please consult the official press release (in French).

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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