Dialogue Credit Suisse Worry Barometer 2016

Credit Suisse Worry Barometer 2016

The Credit Suisse Worry Barometer shows that optimism is growing in Switzerland. Confidence in institutions has increased, and the economic situation is seen as positive – but the Swiss are still worried about the same issues as in the past.

For 40 years, the Credit Suisse Worry Barometer has been providing information about the mood of the Swiss population. In 2016, as we celebrate this 40th anniversary, one thing is clear: The Swiss feel less threatened by the problems they face, and their mood is optimistic. The issues of adult and youth unemployment, foreigners and refugees, AHV (old age and survivors' insurance) and retirement provisions continue to be their main concerns.

The Top Worries of the Swiss 2016

The Economic Situation: Things Are Better Than Ever

Even if their worries have not disappeared entirely, the Swiss people are more positive about their own personal economic situations this year than ever before. More than two-thirds of the population currently describe their situation as good or even very good, and only a small fraction expect it to worsen. While they are somewhat less positive about the overall economic situation, there too they express optimism. In our interview, Avenir Suisse Director Peter Grünenfelder talks about the high priority attached to this topic.

Three Major Strengths

There is a broad consensus among voters regarding Switzerland's greatest strengths. In recent years, "neutrality," "Swiss quality" and "education" have been named most frequently in response to a question about Switzerland's main strengths. This is true again in 2016, although education is mentioned slightly less often.

Switzerland's Major Strengths

Widespread Confidence

A majority of Swiss people express confidence in most of the country's politicians and business leaders. As in 2015, the Federal Supreme Court ranks at the top in terms of trustworthiness. Tied for second place in 2016 are the Council of States and the police. A majority express confidence in the Federal Council, administrative agencies, and the National Council, as well as in NGOs, the military, and the Swiss National Bank. Employees' and employers' associations, banks, and the media also enjoy the trust of most Swiss people. Confidence in the EU has increased dramatically; while a clear majority of respondents do not see joining the EU as an option, their trust in it as an institution appears to be greater than ever before. In our interview, Jürg Stahl, the new president of the National Council, discusses Switzerland's relationship with Europe – and points out that we all need to calm down.

National Pride and the Challenge of Europe

Nearly 9 out of 10 Swiss people are proud of their country – not quite as many as in the record year 2015, but an impressive majority similar to that in the previous years. In the political sphere, people are most proud of the Federal Constitution and Switzerland's neutrality; in the business sector, they single out the watch industry and research as areas of particular pride.

All the same, the Swiss people identify a variety of challenges. For many years, Switzerland's relationship with Europe has been an important issue, although the bilateral agreements still have widespread support. Opinions differ with respect to the so-called Brexit, the planned departure of the United Kingdom from the EU. Most voters believe that it will benefit Switzerland, while a minority of slightly more than one-third is worried about possible negative effects. Opinions about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are even more divided: Roughly equal numbers view it positively and negatively, and people have very different ideas about what action Switzerland should take.

Ambivalence About TTIP

What Will the Future Bring?

Most people in Switzerland believe that they will worry about the same things in the future as they do today – with some slight differences. According to the Worry Barometer, the top concern in 10 years will be retirement provisions and the AHV (Old Age and Survivors' Insurance). And this is the problem that most urgently needs to be solved, respondents say. In her essay, Nicole Burth Tschudi identifies challenges in the labor market, while futurologist Georges Roos paints a surprisingly dismal picture of what is to come. While there is cause for optimism, resting on our laurels is clearly not an option.