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Poverty rate stubborn in rich Switzerland

Switzerland may be one of the world's richest nations but as many as one resident in 13 lives in poverty, official data showed on Tuesday.

GENEVA: Switzerland may be one of the world's richest nations but as many as one resident in 13 lives in poverty, official data showed on Tuesday.

While the Swiss poverty rate is half that of many European nations -- estimates put Britain's at one in five, for example -- it underlines the extent to which a minority of the population struggles to get by.

Figures from the Swiss federal statistics office showed that 7.7 percent of the nation of eight million people lived below the poverty line in 2012.

Switzerland's poverty line is 2,200 Swiss francs (1,800 euros, US$2,466) per month for a single person and 4,050 francs for a couple with two children.

While many Europeans would dream of such sums, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the continent, with sky-high rents and compulsory private health insurance eating into household budgets.

Like their counterparts in other European nations, Swiss residents most at risk of poverty include one-parent families, adults who live alone, unskilled workers and households where nobody has a job.

Of the some 600,000 people affected, 130,000 were in work.

Switzerland escaped the scale of economic crisis that hit much of the rest of Europe in the past half-decade, but nonetheless saw a slowdown.

Poverty rates were largely unchanged between 2011 and 2012, but declined from the 9.3 percent seen in 2007, data showed.

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