Oct 08 2012
One Zurich economist thinks so:
In Switzerland 71 per cent of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of just ten per cent of the population – a figure that economist Hans Kissling finds alarming.
Kissling tells swissinfo that the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing and that this could threaten traditional Swiss democracy and the economy. He makes a call for an inheritance tax for the wealthy.
Statistics show that the 300 richest people have become 40 per cent wealthier in the past eight years, whereas most of the population has a lower income than at the beginning of the 1990s
Kissling has nothing against wealth, he just thinks that if someone did not earn their wealth but inherited it instead, they should have to share a bit with the rest of society.
I call for a tax on very high inheritances, from SFr1 million ($900.000) upwards, and only on the excess value of that. I certainly don’t want people to think that they can’t pass on their family home to the next generation.
I’m only interested in trying to stop any creeping feudalisation, to avoid having huge clans like in South America, which threaten the economy and the political world
He’s most concerned that if the gap between rich and middle class continues to widen and the middle class of Switzerland don’t start benefiting from the country’s growing wealth, there could be a dangerous backlash against the free market system.
…the richest one tenth of a percent in Zurich – there are no full Swiss statistics – had 677 times more wealth than an average citizen in 1991. By 2003, 12 years later, the richest one tenth of a percent had 1,027 times more wealth. So the gap has really grown.
The middle classes, unlike the lower classes, have not benefited from any concessions, such as health insurance or childcare allowances. Here they have to use up all their assets before they receive any support. The lower classes have help from the beginning. This is why the middle classes are threatened
- Why does a growing gap between rich and middle class threaten social stability in Switzerland?
- What threats do growing inequality pose to Economic growth?
- What are the benefits of an inheritance tax as a means to reduce wealth and income inequality? What are the arguments against such a tax?
- What other types of government policies could reduce the wealth and income inequality that exists in Switzerland?
About the author: Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author