When you read newspapers nowadays, you'd get the opinion that the economy in Germany is doing "great".
However, when I plot the population development in Germany vs. Switzerland, I get a very different picture: continuous and relative drastic decline since 1945.

When you look at the period 1913-1918 and beyond, you see a timely-constrained decline that is probably related to WWI. If you consider that WWII was not that much worse than WWII, the trend should go upward since about at least 1970 to 1980. However, it continues downward.

So while Switzerland is prosperous, if Germany is so, too - how do you explain the decline ? I mean obviously that's because Switzerland is gaining faster or losing slower than Germany - but why ?

Population ratio development

  • 16
    Could you explain how the population ratio between the two countries is supposed to in any way indicate their respective prosperity?
    – F1Krazy
    Jul 5, 2018 at 15:13
  • 15
    I'm perplexed by the notion that change in population ratio is a more reliable indicator (or indeed any indicator) of change in relative prosperity than, say, GDP per capita? Jul 5, 2018 at 15:14
  • 15
    Isn't this completely backwards? Ceterus parabus, it's an established fact that prosperity lowers birthrates
    – user4012
    Jul 5, 2018 at 15:14
  • 1
    @RedGrittyBrick: Birthrates: "indigenous population" is declining in both countries. Country with higher-wages/lower-unemployment (aka better economy) gets more immigration.
    – Quandary
    Jul 5, 2018 at 15:17
  • 3
    Many germans imigrated and continues to immigrate into Switzerland; also while Germany has lots of immigration Switzerland has even more of it, also because the original population is much smaller in Switzerland, an influct of say 1000 people in both countries will increase the ratio even though both countries had the same amount of imigrants.
    – Bregalad
    Jul 5, 2018 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Population change is a function of birth rate, death rate and net migration.

Birth rates have declined in both Germany and Switzerland (at almost identical rates), but Switzerland has had more immigration relative to its population than Germany (25% of the population of Switzerland is foreign born while only 15% of the German population is foreign born), which comports very naturally with the well know fact that Swiss culture is more internationally oriented than the culture of Germany.

Germany also has had a consistently higher death rate than Switzerland (by a factor of about 2 deaths per 1000 population) for all of recent history, reflecting Switzerland's greater affluence (keep in mind that Germany includes former East Germany as well as former West Germany). Switzerland's per capita GDP is about 22% higher than Germany's.

This has been fostered by an overt Swiss policy of internationalism driven by its political neutrality, and by Switzerland not having a partial legacy of Soviet style Communism as the East German part of Germany does.

  • 4
    What is “internationally oriented culture” and “internationalism” supposed to mean exactly? Regard for international law, UN institutions and schools and facilities for the rich and famous? For better or for worse, Swiss culture is really insular in ways other countries in Western Europe are not, it makes no sense to me to consider it a more “internationally oriented culture”.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 5, 2018 at 22:12
  • 2
    @Relaxed: Agree. That's an euphemism for tax-haven with multilingualism. I think the answer is that the graph is an indirect measurement of immigration rate ratio per capita. And because Switzerland's population is low in comparison, the difference is made even more extreme in the ratio.
    – Quandary
    Jul 6, 2018 at 8:28
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    @Bregalad What do you mean? Swiss culture
    – user_42
    Jul 6, 2018 at 14:47
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    @Bregalad And if you go further down, you will find the common actions/music/art that outsiders view as distinctly Swiss culture.
    – user_42
    Jul 6, 2018 at 14:57
  • 3
    @Bregalad You can say that of many countries, very much including France, yet I still believe there is such a thing as Swiss culture.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 9, 2018 at 5:01

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