Growing need for security and safety
Security and safety concerns have risen in the rankings as a result of the pandemic. By contrast, the impact on trust in Swiss institutions has been relatively small. A majority of respondents view the economic situation quite positively, but the number of people who worry about losing their jobs is growing.
This summer, Switzerland weathered the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic well compared with other countries. It was to be expected, then, that this success would be reflected in higher trust scores in the Credit Suisse Worry Barometer for those institutions that played an active role in managing the crisis. All the more so considering the hit they took in 2019. As a matter of fact, on average, the scores for the 20 entities and institutions covered by the survey did rise again, from 38 to 40 percent. However, a closer look reveals that only policymakers and public agencies benefited from the unusual circumstances – in particular the Federal Council but also the National Council and the Council of States, public administration and, to a lesser extent, the political parties.
Clearly, the Swiss are willing to give policymakers all the credit for managing the crisis well. For example, the army's contributions were not recognized in the form of increased trust. The same is true for the media, where television in particular once again suffered a significant decline in trust despite broadly based reporting. At least the paid newspapers were able to rebuild trust as they had hoped.
Economic confidence, with some reservations…
As in our last survey, 94 percent of the population feels that the Swiss economy is doing well, rating it good or very good compared to other countries. Sixty percent indicated that the business community can work out solutions faster than policymakers, but more freedom and less red tape is needed. Respondents also take a positive view of their own economic circumstances, with 65 percent characterizing their own situation as good or very good. Even 81 percent (−6 pp) expect their situation to remain unchanged or improve over the next twelve months. The slight decrease compared with last year would not necessarily be alarming if it were not for the 14 percent (+4 pp) who said they were worried that their situation would get worse. Never in the last 25 years have so many people responded in that way, and there were almost no differences here between men and women or among the country's language regions. However, concern about one's own economic situation is particularly strong among persons with lower levels of education (19 percent) and those on low incomes (32 percent) or middle incomes in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 Swiss francs (16 percent). Job security is a concern for 14 percent of respondents, and 11 percent – more than ever before – fear they may lose their job within the year. While that is a clear minority of respondents, a comparison with the numbers from 2012 shows that the percentage of people worried about job loss has more than doubled. "The trend toward greater concerns about job security is still at a low level, but it started long before coronavirus entered the picture," comments Cloé Jans of gfs.bern. "Instead, the reason may lie in the changing labor market – in other words, technological change." As a matter of fact, 8 percent of respondents expect to lose their job in the next five years due to new technologies.
Increase the security of supply
"The coronavirus pandemic has led many Swiss to re-evaluate their security needs," says Jans, pointing to a particularly interesting result from the survey. "The top priority now is to ensure a secure supply of energy, medicine and food, followed by economic security in the form of safeguarding our standard of living – among both working age citizens and seniors."
In their assessment of 14 different aspects of the country's security, respondents ranked the security of supply especially highly. Energy security stands at the very top of the list, followed by the ability to access medical products and the secure supply of goods. Of nearly equal importance is safeguarding the standard of living, both with respect to social welfare institutions and economic prosperity. Third place went to security against new threats such as cyberattacks, data privacy violations and pandemics, all of which were rated as more dangerous than terrorism and environmental risks.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, only 8 percent view government investment in pandemic prevention as the top priority.
Securing national interests in the global context was ranked as less urgent, as was security against traditional risks. The following missed making it into the top ten: improving international cooperation (67 percent), reducing global dependencies (65 percent), immigration (59 percent) and military security (58 percent).
87 percent of voters would agree to state intervention to bring certain production processes back to Switzerland in order to secure the supply of needed resources. Demands for state investment in areas with high security needs paint an almost identical picture, with one important exception: Our survey respondents want investment aimed at protecting against environmental risks to be the very top priority. All in all, this year's Worry Barometer has revealed an astonishingly coherent new security picture.