Switzerland is a country that strives to maintain a high quality of life. (fig. 66)
People here earn well and spend well, but they are more quality conscious (if not to say high maintenance) than their neighbors. (figs. 32 & 33) In Switzerland, there is a healthy mixture of affluent and average earners, and all of them receive the same basic facilities such as primary and secondary education or health insurance. In essence, the minimum living standards are often considered as luxury by the millions who visit this alpine country.
Not only tourists like to spend time here, Switzerland is also at the top of preferred destinations by expats (S-GE Annual Report 2014 & fig. 68). The country provides a conducive environment for innovation (fig. 10), century old political stability and a hassle free legal system.
"We often hear from companies that these are the key factors when they think of setting up a business abroad," says Dan Bangser. Mr. Bangser is Director North America, Investment Promotion, at Switzerland Global Enterprise, an organization that promotes Switzerland as a business location around the world. "They tell us they feel that the risk of international expansion is reduced in Switzerland. It's a place where companies can prosper and invest safely and securely."
Direct Democracy in Action
A stable economy in any country is directly linked to its political nature. In order to understand what people in Switzerland care about, one simply needs to study the politics and the wonderful process of "direct democracy." Swiss citizens are the direct stakeholders in the political affairs of the country and through initiatives, referendums and plebiscites, a lot of the decisions for country's growth are in the hands of the population.
The case of Switzerland’s "hands on" democracy has not only proven that people tend to take more responsibility, contributing to making this a fertile ground for investments. It also adds up to one of the highest degrees of peacefulness in the world, as a recently published study demonstrates.
Despite its small size, Switzerland is culturally diverse. Four recognized national languages and countless dialects are in some ways a dividing factor, but all of the 26 cantons enjoy a high degree of personal freedom and tolerance.
This social harmony is a result of years of commitment from all the political parties which choose negotiation as a conflict-resolution mechanism. This aspect is very crucial for smooth day-to-day functioning and has resulted in a coherent social system whereby residents (not just Swiss citizens) can prosper and go about their normal lives.
Therefore, Switzerland is very conducive for foreign business as they can expect a great deal of cooperation in setting up their establishments and also find enough skilled, multi-lingual resources within the country.
What Makes a Nation Tick?
Irrespective of where a nation is located, if there is a constant emphasis on providing high standards of living, by default such a country becomes a preferred choice by a lot of people to live, work and enjoy. Add a breathtaking scenery, structured regulations, steady inflation (fig. 47), four seasons, multilingualism and a well-connected public transport system: Welcome to Switzerland!
(Photographs copyright Swiss Global Enterprise)