We Swiss are often credited with handling money well. But do we really live up to this reputation in an international comparison? And how is the savings from Mr. and Mrs. Swiss actually distributed among the private households? Do we save in general or is saving limited to the higher income brackets? You will get the answers in this article.
1 The Swiss save around a fifth – only China saves more
A look at current OECD datawith which the savings rates of private households from over 30 OECD countries are compared, seems to confirm the alleged willingness to save of the Swiss: Because with a Savings rate of 18.8 percent (2016), Switzerland is in second place behind China (2015: 37.1%), followed by Sweden (2016: 16.6%) and well ahead of countries such as Germany (2016: 9.7%), Austria (2016 : 7.9%) or the USA (2016: 5.0%).
These values are in relation to disposable household income. The forced saving in the form of compulsory occupational pension, as they are known in Switzerland – unlike the USA, for example – is not included. In international comparison, Swiss households therefore have one above-average, voluntary propensity to save.
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2 Four-digit savings amounts on the high edge – monthly!
What does this mean in concrete terms, ie how many Swiss francs can Swiss households put aside? According to the Federal Statistical Office, the average (voluntary) savings amount for the years 2012 to 2014 is exactly 1,410 francs per month and household (see Figure 1).
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3 40 percent of Swiss households do not save
If we the the sample If you take a closer look, it is noticeable that the willingness to save among Swiss households varies greatly and – unsurprisingly – depends on income. The 40 percent (1st and 2nd quantile) of households with the lowest income even have a negative (!) savings amount. Only from the third quantile does the monthly savings amount become positive at CHF 860 and rise sharply from CHF 1,941 (4th quantile) to CHF 4,662 (5th quantile or top fifth of income).
We Swiss may be remarkable savers when viewed internationally and measured by average values, but this picture is put into perspective when we look at the savings rate per household and income class: We can – to put it somewhat casually – sum up that half of Swiss households save and the other half lives more or less from hand to mouth.
In the next blog post, we want to look into what happens to the money saved in times of historically low interest rates and take a closer look at the financial situation of Mr. and Mrs. Schweizer.
You can get a general overview of the topic of “investing” here: Learning to invest – in eight lessons.