Top Countries for High Pay and Low Tax

12 April 2017

On the back of yesterday’s release of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Taxing Wages 2017 report*, analysed additional OECD data to find what this all means for expats planning on a global move 2017. Along with taxable income, another key factor motivating an expat’s move should be the individual’s wages to hours worked ratio for maximised income and overall life satisfaction.

“Our data analysis shows that Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway rank the highest among OECD countries when it comes to an average worker's hourly wage compared to the number of hours he puts into work. However, for married expats relocating to these countries with their children, OECD's recent report on taxes on labour income brings additional good news. The average tax rate for married employees with 2 children in Luxembourg and Switzerland rank significantly lower than the OECD average in 2016, thanks to generous family benefits. So, it is not surprising to see globally mobile talents with families making these markets their destination of choice in Europe."

Sebastien Deschamps, CEO of

In an article from earlier in the week, we delved into the OECD data to discover which are the top countries around the world where you can maximise your wages while minimising your hours worked. We found that of the OECD countries, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway came out on top, with average hourly wages over 2015 of US$40.06, US$36.73 and US$35.75, respectively, when adjusted for purchasing parity power (see below).

“Despite the high cost of living and the recent turbulence around the Brexit decision, families are still being attracted to Luxembourg for work, due to some of the highest average wages in the world and its prime position at the centre of Europe. Yesterday’s Taxing Wages 2017 report from the OECD showed very little change across the board compared to last year, exemplifying how stable the country is, both politically and economically, in such turbulent times.”

Stephane Compain, CEO LuxRelo

The Taxing Wages Report 2017 has provided a new insight into this data, as seen below, confirming that all three of these European countries, but especially Luxembourg and Switzerland, are some of the best places to move in the world as an expat family seeking out increased wages and a better quality of life. Both of these countries have been popular with foreign workers for some time, with 24.3% of Switzerland’s registered residents being foreign in 2014.

Our previous analysis showed that the average annual wages and hours actually worked (not contracted) by employees in these three countries made them extremely desirable destinations for those wanting to both maximise their income while minimising their working hours. This setup will be especially beneficial for young families where long working hours would be more disruptive than for single workers. Families with a single working parent would be wise to look at Switzerland as a potential destination, as the tax wedge for this bracket has been trending down for over 15 years. Luxembourg on the other hand has seen an overall increase over this same period, although the total still comes in at significantly less than the OECD Average.

“Switzerland has long been one of the premier destinations within Western Europe for expat workers looking to relocate globally due to its open society, generous wages and low taxation. The Recent OECD report has once again shone a light on exactly why around 25% of the population is made up of foreigners who have decided to call Switzerland their home. We expect this percentage to only increase as time goes on, especially as the Brexit result will potentially displace many Europeans overcoming two to three years.”

Pierre Jéronimo, CEO Geneva Relocation

Visit for our full findings on how top expat destinations in the OECD rank in terms of hours to wage ratio, and expert insights on why these countries appeal to globally mobile talents.

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*The report studies the ‘tax wedge’ – the taxes on labour income paid by employees and employers, minus family benefits received, as a percentage of the labour costs of the employer – a useful measure of the difference between before- and after-tax wages.