According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were around 3.8 million private households in Switzerland at the end of 2018. In just over a third of these households, only one person lived, which corresponded to 16% of the permanent resident population living in a single-person household. In just under a third of the households, two people lived, which corresponded to 29% of the permanent resident population. The average household size was 2.23 people.

Some time ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia Locher, executive president of “Pro Single Switzerland”. What is Pro Single Switzerland? If you look at the statutes, the purpose of the association is formulated as follows:

"The association advocates for the interests of all single people in Switzerland. It promotes the legal, social and societal recognition of their status and is committed to combating discrimination against them, particularly in the areas of social insurance, taxes and inheritance law."

When I ran into Sylvia Locher again in autumn 2019, I wondered what it would be like to retire as a single person and leave the workforce. I therefore asked Ms Locher the following questions, which she was happy to answer:

Ms. Locher, what do you think is the big difference when singles retire or someone in a relationship?

The main difference is that singles can continue to do whatever they want at home, whereas couples can often experience tensions when the husband suddenly stays at home and keeps an eye on his wife (I say that with a wink, of course, but it's something we hear a lot). The difference will probably be that singles will continue to be outward-looking, and people in a relationship will spend more time with their partner.

Does retirement have financial implications for singles?

Yes, it has a financial impact.

If yes how?

In particular, women who have never been married and who have worked in typically female jobs with low wages have a small pension that cannot be supplemented with a second income or a second pension.

What is your assessment: do more singles work into retirement than someone in a relationship? Is it because they are alone?

That's really difficult to say. It depends on the type of person. Personally, I will work until I retire because I enjoy the job. I know a few singles who continue to work, partly for pleasure, partly for financial reasons. But when someone has had enough, they want to stop, regardless of whether they have a partner. As a single person, you can simply decide more independently whether you want to continue working, provided your employer wants that. Couples have to discuss this among themselves. And that could be problematic if they don't have the same needs. I don't believe that singles want to work longer because they live alone (which is not the same as being alone). Singles are used to maintaining a social network. My single friends who are already retired are always out and about or enjoying their free time.

Do you know the Seniors@Work platform?

No, I didn't know the Seniors@Work platform until now, but I find it very exciting.

Can you imagine making Seniors@Work known to your members?

Yes, I could imagine making this platform known to our members.

Thank you, dear Ms Locher, for answering my curious questions. I wish you and Pro Single Switzerland much success!

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