Switzerland: how does one of the world’s wealthiest countries perform in global rankings that measure environmental sustainability, life quality and talent attraction potential? How does Switzerland’s public diplomacy influence its economic competitiveness and global soft power?

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Switzerland’s soft power and brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and well-being
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Switzerland’s soft power and brand strength

How does Switzerland compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, Switzerland secures the 8th spot, slightly trailing France (6th) and Canada (7th). Impressively, Switzerland’s score has shown growth, rising from 56.6 in 2022 to 58.5 this year. Switzerland ranks highest in the Politically stable & well-governed and High ethical standards and low corruption metrics and appears among the top five nations under the Sustainable Future metric. The nation successfully translates the positive perceptions of a “great place to visit” into driving strong tourism performance to be one of the top four most attractive countries.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Switzerland secures the 1st position. Notably, Switzerland excels in three key areas: open for business (1st) assessing cheapness of manufacturing costs, favorable tax environment, bureaucracy and corruption levels, and level of government transparency; entrepreneurship (6th) analyzing technological expertise, digital infrastructure, and a skilled labor force; and quality of life (6th), examining the job market, affordability, economic stability, family friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety, educational and health systems. Switzerland has maintained its positioning from the previous ranking, with lowest scores in movers and heritage.

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six different factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking Switzerland continues to secure the 7th position.

Talent and competitiveness in Switzerland

What are the conditions for talent attraction and retention in Switzerland?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Switzerland at the 5th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past 5 years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

Switzerland, classified as a high-income country within the European regional group, currently holds the 1st position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, Switzerland performs most remarkably in the Enable and Retain pillars where it holds the 1st position in both. Its main challenge is the GK Skills pillars where it ranked 10th.

In terms of education excellence, Switzerland boasts three universities within the top 100 worldwide, according to the World University Rankings 2024. These esteemed institutions are: ETH Zurich, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and University of Zurich.

Switzerland’s appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of Switzerland as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Expat Insider 2023 ranks Switzerland in 23rd position out of 53 countries, below Czechia (21st) and the Netherlands (22nd). However, Switzerland ranks 1st in the Environment and Climate metric, 2nd in the Safety and Security metric, and 2nd in the Salary and Job Security metric.

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, Switzerland placed 13th, a drop of three positions from the previous ranking. It now sits behind Poland (12th) and above Luxembourg (14th). Globally, Switzerland secures the 26th position, dropping six positions from the previous ranking. This overall decline can be attributed to Net FDI and D2 – Digital Demand © decreases. 

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places Switzerland at the 13th global position, jumping four positions from the previous year; the country now sits behind Mexico (12th) and above Canada (14th). Regionally, Switzerland now holds the 7th position, experiencing a jump of one position, regardless of its lower tourism receipts, CBS Rating ©, and online performance. 

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, Switzerland secured the 3rd position, showing a slight shift from its 2nd place in 2022 and 1st in 2021. Currently, it sits just behind Denmark (1st) and Ireland (2nd) while surpassing Singapore (4th) and the Netherlands (5th).

In terms of specific characteristics, Switzerland’s economic performance jumped twelve positions to the 18th spot in 2023. It continues to hold the 1st position for government efficiency. Lastly, Switzerland drops three positions to the 7th position for business efficiency, and continues to hold the 1st spot for infrastructure.

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2023, Switzerland is the most innovative country of Europe. Switzerland’s performance has decreased by 0.6% points during the period between 2016 and 2023. Its strengths are: Public-private co-publications, Foreign doctorate students, International scientific co-publications, Doctorate graduates, and Lifelong learning. While its weaknesses are: Government support for business R&D, Environment-related technologies, Medium and high-tech goods exports, Innovative SMEs collaborating with others, and Venture capital expenditures.

How “good” is Switzerland?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Switzerland secured the 56th position, showcasing a jump of 20 positions from the previous year. Notably, Switzerland performs most admirably in the subfactor of donating money where 56% of its adult population helped a stranger in the past year.

In the Good Country Index, Switzerland currently holds the 15th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (23rd), Culture (3rd), International Peace & Security (99th), World Order (28th), Planet & Climate (3rd), Prosperity & Equality (15th), and Health & Wellbeing (8th). It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, Switzerland was ranked 17th, and in 2021, it held the 7th position. While the country has yet to reach back its 2021 level, there has been a significant increase in the Prosperity and Equality factor. 

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Switzerland ranked in the dark blue zone (9-10 range) with a 9.14 out of 10. This is higher than Germany who scored 8.8, and Ireland who scored a 9.13; but lower than Finland who scored a 9.29 and Sweden who scored a 9.39.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index, ranks Switzerland 7th with a score of 82/100, below Singapore and Sweden which both tied for the 5th position with a score of 83. Switzerland’s score has decreased by two since 2021. 

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Switzerland in 15th position, it highlights that Switzerland, although quite high in the ranking, still faces some challenges. However, the No Poverty factor has achieved the status of SDG achievement although stagnating, and the Clean Water and Sanitation and the Decent Work and Economic Growth goals are on track.

Switzerland’s environmental sustainability

Does Switzerland stand out for environmental friendliness?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Switzerland 9th, sitting between Austria (8th) and Iceland (10th). The EPI analyzes the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. Switzerland has experienced a change in score of positive 8.2.

Life quality in Switzerland

Is Switzerland a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Switzerland 10th, jumping one position from last years’ index. Switzerland sits behind Slovenia (8th) and Japan (9th). Switzerland falls under the very high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Switzerland positioned 7th regionally amongst its fellow European countries, led by Iceland and Denmark.

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks Switzerland within the medium impact (orange) zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2022 Global Terrorism Index. Switzerland ranks 65th, sitting in between Sweden (64th) and Ecuador (66th).

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023 which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022 ranks Switzerland 8th.

Last updated in November 2023. More country profiles here.

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