Politics and society
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Politics and society

Federal Old Age and Survivors' Insurance (AHV) is the new top-ranked concern of the Swiss, while coexisting with foreigners is rated more positively. Mobilization is trending in the US. A lack of equality represents a problem.

Institutional politics and political parties may generally be considered passé Chapter 3, but that doesn’t mean that young people are uninterested in their country’s problems or that they aren’t engaged. So, what are the latest concerns in Switzerland, the US, Brazil and Singapore?

Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance (AHV) tops the list of concerns in Switzerland, in line with the trend of the Credit Suisse Worry Barometer (see also Bulletin 4/17). There is a clear correlation to the pension reform referendum and its extensive coverage in the media last year. Despite the urgent need for AHV reform, only 36 percent of respondents considered the relationship between the old and the young to be strained – down from 40 percent in 2010. So, that means everything is fine? Not so fast: Only 18 percent of those surveyed considered the relationship to be harmonious – the largest group took a neutral stance on the issue (41 percent).

Switzerland: Biggest concerns

Clearly, the topic of foreigners and refugees has lost some of its urgency, while coexistence was regarded as more and more harmonious. In the words of Boris Zürcher, Head of the Labour Directorate of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, this result demonstrates how the approval of the mass immigration initiative gave “large parts of the population the sense of being heard". Still, he added his assumption that “the topic will again become more relevant if immigration increases again."

In the US, Singapore and Brazil, unemployment holds one of the top two spots in the problem ranking – even though the data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that in some cases unemployment rates are lower than those in Switzerland. One possible explanation is that job security in Switzerland is slightly overestimated in general. Or that, thanks to the well-established social insurance, the Swiss feel more secure than their peers in other countries.

International comparison: Top 3 concerns per country

In the US, Singapore and Brazil, gender equality is considered one of the top five problems (Switzerland: 10th place). Terrorism is also ranked very highly in the US (2nd place) and Singapore (4th place). For many years, corruption has been perceived to be Brazil's greatest problem, and now it has debuted in Singapore's ranking, coming in at third place.

In the US, where politics have grown more raucous in recent years, this has had a mobilizing effect. Compared to 2017, the popularity of political demonstrations grew from 16 to 33 percent, and calls for reforms increased from 75 to 85 percent. For the first time, the survey also covered fake news and gun control, which were both chosen by 18 percent of those surveyed.

Young people in Switzerland were asked where they felt they belonged. Respondents could choose from nine different social units. With only a few exceptions, the sense of belonging has been declining since 2015. Friends and family remained the social units offering the greatest sense of belonging, while religious communities and online communities were those with the least. This general decline is thought-provoking, although it may be an indication of just how independent and confident this generation is.