2019 OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland 2019

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Swiss citizens continue to enjoy high living standards on a range of dimensions. Economic growth has slowed but the healthy labour market is still supporting incomes and consumption. However, risks to the outlook are building. Monetary policy has been very accommodative but low interest rates are adding to financial risks. Fiscal policy is sound and debt low. There is scope to make greater use of available fiscal space. Adapting to population ageing is becoming pressing. This trend, along with digital transformation, will bring new opportunities for the economy and society, but challenges as well. Policies have not kept up with rising life expectancy, particularly the statutory retirement age. Updating the pension system and lowering barriers to working longer would ensure that workers continue to receive adequate incomes during retirement. Ageing will also pressure health care spending and increase demand for long-term care. Policies to contain costs and reduce fragmentation in the system can help maintain access to quality care. Switzerland is well placed to seize the opportunities offered by new technologies. Addressing the barriers to adoption, improving the availability of information and helping workers adapt will enable firms, individuals and governments to reap the benefits of digitalisation.


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Policies for Switzerland’s ageing society

Swiss society is ageing. At the same time, life expectancy is increasing. With most workers retiring around age 65, time in retirement is growing and the ratio of retirees to employees is set to soar. These developments bring a range of opportunities but will likely weigh on growth in GDP per capita and increase public spending. They may also widen existing inequalities. This chapter highlights three key policy challenges to preserve high living standards in coming decades. First, the pension system ensures good retirement incomes despite a lack of reforms. However, reforms are urgently needed as the system is under increasing pressure. Second, a range of disincentives and barriers in the labour market and tax system contribute to early retirement and involuntary retirement. Boosting employability at older ages and broadening older workers’ options would dampen the economic impact of ageing. Third, the Swiss health system delivers good outcomes but at a higher cost than other countries, and ageing will only exacerbate the associated pressures. Cost containment and improved co-ordination are vital. Adjusting the financing of long-term care could improve access and the overall quality of long-term care.

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