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Universal Basic Income: First representative survey in Switzerland

«The Swiss are ready for a universal basic income!»

  • Only 2% of Swiss citizens say they would definitely stop working.
  • 54% would invest more time in educating themselves furtherly.
  • 53% would spend more time with the family.
  • 22% would start a self-employed business.
  • 59% of the “Generation Y” (age under 35) assume, UBI will become reality in Switzerland.
The survey was realized by demoSCOPE AG/Switzerland with n=1076 participants (with voting rights).


Recently, the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI) became globaly popular. World Economic Forum founder Prof. Klaus Schwab considered that a basic income will be soon required. «We have to think in new ways», he said to Blick, a major Swiss newspaper.

Also Prof. Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT) demanded to push the idea, so did Nobel Prize Laureate Christopher Pissarides (LSE) as well as Thimotheus Höttges, CEO of the German Telekom.

The idea of the UBI is a promising concept facing both: massively job-losses going along with increasing automation (CBS-News,) and the large gap between poor and rich (e.g. Oxfam-report; The Guardian).

As the first nation globally, Swiss citizens will decide on introducing UBI in a public referendum in June 2016. The first representative survey was carried out in December 2015.

The main results of the survey

Introducing a UBI in Switzerland, only 2% of Swiss people say, they would definitely quit their jobs. The frequently cited counter-argument, that with an UBI no one would continue working, is obviously not a problem Switzerland has to worry about. Also, the counter-argument, that especially young people would become lazy because of a lack of incentives is detected as false: Only 3% of young people (age 18-34), answered, that they definitely would quit their jobs, when receiving a UBI.

53% of Swiss citizens say, they would spend more time with the family receiving a UBI. That fleshes out the statement, that a UBI strengthens the family. Especially people with low income (below 5000 CHF/month) would appreciate to spend more time with the family (66%).

 54% of the Swiss want to do further education with an UBI. 56% of women and even 70% of the younger generation (18-34 years) and families with kids (61%) would be willing to further qualify themselves when receiving a UBI. So UBI meets people’s will to cope with the rapidly changing employment markets.

The survey shows another surprizing result: With a UBI, 22% in total would want to start a business or work self-employed. This would strengthen the progressive and innovative position of Switzerland towards the future. On the same hand, 67% state that a UBI would take existential fear off the people. This lack of existential fear empowers initiative. A widely spread majority of Swiss realize this effect from UBI.

A positive sideeffect regarding peoples consumption: 35% state, that with a UBI they would care more about sustainable products. Young people (under 35) even 50%.

From the Generation Y (people under 35 years), 59% assume that in the future a UBI will be reality in Switzerland. This shows: A universal basic income will turn up – sooner or later.

«The Swiss are ready for a universal basic income!»

The first representative survey on universal basic income in Switzerland shows, that UBI is the best way to be a step ahead of the rapid technological progress:

The Swiss have a good background for the introduction of a UBI, because it will strengthen their desire to further educate and qualify themselves. This is also shown by the 67% who state, a UBI would take existential fear away (26% certain, 41% rather).

So the UBI encourages people to cope with the rapidly technological changes through further qualification and self-employment. This shows that UBI doesn’t lead to laziness, but to enhancements and progress. Further studies and qualification brings progress in work and economy. Introducing a UBI is presumably an investment in the future of society.

Significantly more women are for the introduction of a UBI. As an outcome of the socially constructed gender roles, women have a closer perception of the needs in the field of family- and caregiving work. This work, which became connotated as “typical womens work” is a mainstay of our society. With a basic income, it would get higher valued and could be shared more equitably. So, a UBI solves problems especially women had to carry in history (New York Times: «It’s Payback Time for Women«).

And last but not least: With a UBI 40% of all Swiss citizens would engage more in voluntary work. Among the supporters of the UBI-idea even 60% say, that they would commit themselves more voluntarily. This would help to sustain society, in church, sports, clubs, schools and so on.  


- Che Wagner, National Initiative for Basic Income Switzerland, E:, T +41 76 230 75 29

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