Internationals found to have net-positive effect on Swiss social security

Internationals found to have net-positive effect on Swiss social security

Amid continued debates on migration, asylum seekers and the worker shortage following the SVP's latest win at the federal elections, a new study from the Swiss government has put the financial contributions of expats and internationals into sharp relief. They found that those without Swiss citizenship have a net positive effect on social security and pensions.

Expats pay more into Swiss social security than they get out

In the study, the Federal Social Insurance Office analysed how much salaries given to non-Swiss residents contribute to the maintenance of the social security systems under their control. These are namely the first pillar pension (AHV), disability insurance (IV), compensation for national service (EO) and supplementary benefits (EL) - as they are controlled by either Swiss cantons or other departments, the study did not include unemployment insurance or welfare.

The department found that when compared to how much expats take out of the schemes, “immigration has a positive effect on AHV, IV and EO in the long term.” “Immigration does not place any additional burden on the first pillar social security systems. On the contrary: immigration will continue to have a positive impact on social insurance,” they noted.

Findings go against what was claimed by SVP

European Union and European Free Trade Area nationals were found to pay especially more into the social safety net than they get out. The government explained that this is because this demographic “earns higher incomes and their labour force participation is higher than other immigrant groups.”

This view refutes what was advocated by the SVP during the last election. Indeed, the party has since called for expats and internationals to pay a special tax in order to remain in the country, with SVP president Marco Chiesa claiming recently that immigration causes "almost all" of Switzerland's problems.

Expats help prolong AHV pension system

In contrast, experts explained that the main benefit of residence permit holders is the “rejuvenating” effect they have on the population. They argued that with more of the Swiss population expected to retire and start claiming a pension, migration is needed to keep programmes funded through new taxation. 

In terms of EL - which is used to “top up” pension pots that are too low - the study found that migrants tend to take out more benefits than they put in, but that this phenomenon is expected to ease in the future. Finally, they noted that when talking about other benefits like the family allowance, there is no financial difference between what is paid in or taken out by expats and citizens.

For more information about the study, check out the official website.

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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