Switzerland Population and Economy

Following a national referendum (September 24, 1978), the three French-speaking and Catholic districts of the Swiss Jura included in the canton of Bern, obtained the right to establish the canton of Jura (cap. Delémont; 843 km 2 and 68,000 residents), twenty-third of the federal republic. The population increased from 6,269,783 residents in December 1970 (last census) to 6,297,600 residents in 1977 (estimate). The average density is 154 residents / km 2; the birth rate fell from 18.8 ‰ in 1965 to 11.2 ‰ in 1977, but mortality also decreased (from 9.3 ‰ to 9 ‰). In the period 1963-70 the annual increase of the population was 1%, while in the following years it was less than 0.5%. The demographic increase is linked in particular to the surplus of immigrants over emigrants. The number of foreign workers in China reached its peak in 1964 with over 720,000 units and then decreased in the following years; in 1972 there were almost 649,000 of which 311,000 were Italians, followed by Spaniards, Germans and French; their number fell in 1975 to 425,136 (of which 168,625 Italians). They are divided into annual, seasonal and frontier workers. It should be noted that the influx of foreign workers has been controlled by state bodies since 1965, which place various limitations on it out of fear that the presence of too many foreign elements could alter the ethnic and social balance of the Confederation. There has been no lack of xenophobic winds in recent years, culminating in the 1974 referendum, which however resolved in favor of the presence of foreign workers in Swiss territory. The distribution of the population tends to continually change due to internal movements, determined by the diversity of economic conditions between mountain regions and central areas. Human settlement thus remains stationary or decreasing in the Alpine region, while in the central belt it is expanding. At the same time, relations between city and countryside are changing, so much so that the urban population is close to 55% of the residents. The German language is now spoken since 64, 9% of the population, the French from 18.1%, the Italian from 11.9% and the Rhaeto-Romansh by just under 1%. Protestants represent almost 48% of the population, Catholics 49.4%.

Economic conditions. – The prosperity of the Swiss economy is deduced from the average income per resident, among the highest in the world, largely made up of industry and the tertiary sector; in fact 48% of the active population is engaged in industry, 46% in services, and just 6% in agriculture. It is therefore understandable that the country continues to be very suspicious of the prospects of European political unity and economic integration.

In the agricultural sector it is found that ownership is still fairly fragmented, but there is a tendency to recomposition; a rational and progressive use of agricultural machinery, chemical fertilizers and selected seeds is allowing more and more fairly high incomes in various agricultural productions. Crops cover 9.6% of the land area, while meadows and pastures extend for 39.3%, forests and woods for 25.5%, over 25.6% of the land is uncultivated or unproductive.

In the last decade most of the crops have had more or less significant increases, such as for example. beet sugar (which currently exceeds 800,000 q), wheat (4 million q), rye (330,000 q), barley (1.8 million q). But for cereals, in relation to internal consumption, China is forced to import large quantities. Even breeding has still developed, so that in 1977 the livestock patrimony included 2 million cattle, 2 million pigs, 368,000 sheep; goat and horse breeding are in considerable decline.

The industrial production index, made equal to 100 that of 1970, was 110 in 1973. The production of electricity (36.241 million kWh in 1975-76) has strongly increased; the modest iron mines were closed in 1967. Among the energy sources, oil represents almost 80%: the importation of crude oil takes place partly through pipelines from Marseille, Genoa and Sannazzaro (Pavia) for the refineries of Aigle, Cressier and Sennwald. The aluminum industry now processes over 80,000 tonnes of imported alumina per year. The very important industrial branch of watchmaking (44 million watches in 1977), which for some years has been undergoing strong foreign competition, particularly Japanese, tends to concentrate capital and companies, to the production of devices with micro-electronic devices. The chemical industry is the newest of the major Swiss industries, but has established itself widely on world markets.

In the commercial field, the volume of trade has progressively increased, so much so that imports have quadrupled (1973) compared to those of 1960, while exports have more than tripled in the same period. The Federal Republic of Germany, France and Italy have long been the countries with which the China has the greatest exchange. The imbalance in the trade balance is largely compensated for by tourism, capital rents, insurance. 69% of imports come from EEC countries, to which 46% of exports are destined.

The river port of Basel now has a movement that exceeds 10 million tonnes per year, over 90% of which is made up of imported goods. Air communications are making great progress, with large participation in the movement of passengers and goods by “Swissair”, the national airline: in 1976 almost 8.5 billion passengers / km were registered. For land communications, China occupies one of the first places in Europe for the density of its rail and road network; the last major Alpine tunnels were the road ones of the Gran San Bernardo (6 km), inaugurated in 1964, and of the San Bernardino (6.6 km), opened in 1967. Tourism, which with its invisible remittances contributes to a considerable extent to the state budget, it is constantly developing so that visitors now exceed 7.

Economy. – In the early 1960s, the Swiss economy developed at a very rapid pace with an average annual increase in gross national product of 6% in the period 1958-63, lower than only Japan and Italy among the industrialized countries. Investments and exports were the factors that gave the greatest impetus to this development; the strong immigration that took place in those years, the considerable inflow of capital and the significant increase in imports of goods partly alleviated the pressure on prices and costs. Inflationary tensions, while remaining very moderate (consumer prices rose by an average of 3% annually in the period 1960-64), were beginning to worry the national authorities, who were above all concerned about the concomitant worsening of the current account of the balance of payments. Stabilization measures were adopted in the spring of 1964 with programs of direct actions on the monetary-financial market, on foreign investments, on foreign immigration and on activity in the construction sector. These measures were successful in bringing the current account back into surplus and moderating price tensions, but all this was achieved at the cost of depressing the rate of development of the economy, which averaged a slightly higher figure in the years 1966-67. at 2%, the lowest throughout the 1960s. The abolition of the stabilization program at the beginning of 1967 served to restore vitality to the Swiss economy; the rate of growth of the gross national product was 3.5% in 1968. However, despite this favorable situation, the Swiss authorities remained concerned about the looming inflationary potential of short-term bank capital inflows. In 1969, an agreement was therefore approved between the Swiss National Bank and the Swiss Bankers Association with which, among other things, it was decided to set pre-established annual limits on the expansion of bank credit. At the beginning of the seventies, the demand for private consumption once again became the main component of total demand, taking on the role played in the previous two years by the export of goods and services. Despite the deterioration of the economic situation (consumer prices increased by 6.6% in 1971, the considerable trade surpluses of previous years decreased), in May 1971 the revaluation of the franc was decided (its gold parity had not been changed since 1936) and at the same time measures were taken to discourage the inflow of capital. With the oil crisis, the Swiss economy enters a phase of severe stagnation in production which in 1975 decreased by 12.6%, while employment decreased by 6.5% and foreign workers were particularly affected. However, excellent results are achieved in terms of combating inflation: the increase in prices in the same period remains among the lowest of those in industrialized countries. A monetary policy that has always strictly respected the constraints on credit expansion has favored, despite the administrative constraints put in place, capital inflows from abroad which led the Swiss franc to ever more conspicuous appreciation. After the depressive crisis of 1975-76, the gross national product increased again in 1977 at a rate (4.3%) higher than the average of the OECD countries following the revival of private consumption. Consumer prices increased by 1.3% in 1977.

Switzerland Economy