OECD Territorial Reviews: Switzerland 2011

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Regions in Switzerland are performing well in many respects. They have high levels of GDP per capita and low unemployment rates, and some regions show impressive growth rates. In addition, Swiss regions have not been confronted with the challenges faced by many similar regions in the OECD, such as limited access to services and population decline due to ageing or emigration. Regional labour productivity growth still requires further policy attention.

In order to improve regional economic performance, Switzerland introduced the New Regional Policy (NRP) in 2008, following the 2002 OECD Territorial Review of Switzerland. The NRP reflects a clear shift of focus from infrastructure and financial assistance towards economic support for the creation of value added to the regional economy. The current review provides recommendations on how the impact of the NRP can be increased through extended territorial coverage, inter-cantonal co-operation, and co-ordination of sectoral policies. This review also takes a close look at regional innovation policies, arguing that a division of roles should be achieved, with the federal level funding research and technology transfer on a country-wide basis, and cantons providing innovation support according to functional areas.

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Assessment and Recommendations

Regions in Switzerland show high levels of GDP per capita, a variety of strong economic sectors (as measured by their exporting performance) and a highly educated population, particularly in Région Lémanique (36.1% in 2006) and Zurich (37.7%). They have high levels of knowledge-intensive employment, especially in Zurich, and high-tech manufacturing in North-West Switzerland. Swiss regions score very high on patent applications, especially cantons such as Basel City. Moreover, they could be considered leaders in green growth. They are at the forefront of innovation in green technologies, such as energy efficiency and pollution abatement.

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