A recent study by Geneva-based Livewhat, asked people from nine european nations what they thought about living conditions in one another’s country on a scale of 0 to 10. A score of 6 or more was considered good. The countries included were: Italy, Greece, UK, Spain, Poland, Germany, France, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, each group was asked to rate their own country.
The results certainly support the old saying “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.
76% of Swiss considered Switzerland’s living conditions to be good. This was Switzerland’s lowest score. A larger percentage of people from all other nations put Switzerland in this category. The highest percentage of 91%, came from the Italians, and the second highest from the Greeks (89%). Even the second lowest, from the Swedes (79%), was comfortably above the percentage of Swiss that gave their own living conditions the thumbs up. If insiders have an information advantage then the residents of the other eight countries in the study overrate Swiss living conditions – see chart below.
If not Switzerland, then where?
If 24% of Swiss consider their living conditions to be less than good, where would they prefer to live? Not in Greece (6%), Poland (16%), Spain (23%) or Italy (26%). And while France (49%), the UK (58%) and Germany (71%) appealed to far higher percentages of Swiss than the first four countries, it was Sweden that appealed to the highest number, with 83% of Swiss scoring it 6 or above. A full 7% ahead of the 76% of Swiss rating Switzerland this highly – see chart below.
Swiss love of Sweden was not unrequited. 84% of Swedes thought living conditions in Switzerland were good or better. Swedes also suffered similarly from “the-grass-is-always-greener” syndrome. Only 75% of Swedes scored their own living conditions as good or better.
Switzerland and Sweden fared the best overall, with Switzerland coming out top. The chart below shows the two countries side by side. The bars show the percentages of respondents from each country rating living conditions in Switzerland and Sweden 6 (from 0 to 10) or higher.
Swiss resilience and self reliance
The study entitled: “Living with hard times, how citizens react to economic crises and their social and political consequences”, gives interesting insight into the Swiss psyche and system.
A majority of Swiss considered their government to be doing a good job on the economy (57%), education (63%) and healthcare (55%). Far fewer felt the government’s performance on poverty (32%) and immigration (25%) was good. Perceived childcare (40%) and unemployment performance (42%) were in the middle.
When asked: Which of the following do you think are most responsible for the rise of unemployment?, only 13.6% of Swiss included the national government in their top two choices, the lowest percentage for any country. The next closest were Germans (30%), Brits (33%) Swedes (38%), French (39%), Greeks (45%), Italians (53%), Spanish (54%) and Polish (56%). Responses to the broader question: Which of the following do you think are most responsible for your country’s economic difficulties?, followed a similar pattern with few Swiss (21%) blaming the government. Responses for other national groups were all between 38% and 62%.
Swiss also showed themselves to be a resilient bunch. When asked: I look for creative ways to alter difficult situations, 66% of Swiss agreed. Only Greeks (72%) and Italians (67%) scored higher. When asked: I actively look for ways to replace the losses I encounter in life, a majority of Swiss (55%) agreed. Swiss also say they deal well with stress. When asked: I have a hard time making it through stressful events, only 32% agreed. This was the leading score on this question. The Spanish (53%) and the French (43%) reported the highest stress levels.
Community seems to be an important aspect of Swiss resilience. When asked: I keep myself active in the community where I live, 45% agreed. Only the French (48%) reported that they were more active in the community. When asked: I feel that I do not have much in common with the larger community in which I live, only 24% of Swiss agreed, the lowest score across all nine countries. The British (39%) , Greeks (38%) and Spaniards (37%) felt the least plugged in.