Why is Switzerland Peaceful?

Switzerland is a highly diverse society, especially among language groups, and with immigration it is becoming even more diverse. Yet Switzerland is also very peaceful. Why? The answer offered in this paper Good Fences created by geography, I find somewhat depressing. I would focus more on political decentralization as an explanation, that too is a function of geography but unlike geography it can be transplanted. I’m in Switzerland this week:

We consider the conditions of peace and violence among ethnic groups, testing a theory designed to predict the locations of violence and interventions that can promote peace. Characterizing the model’s success in predicting peace requires examples where peace prevails despite diversity. Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence. Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups, allowing for partial autonomy within a single country.

In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution guarantee either sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and that region has experienced significant violent conflict, leading to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas where they did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.


" ... I find somewhat depressing." The purpose of discerning reality is not to cheer you up. The pitiless universe is indifferent to your disappointment.

Why is the modern mind so averse to social segregation?

What's so ignoble or terrible about saying - "You lead your life, I lead mine. Let's not mess with each other".

I genuinely want to understand the reason for this strong aversion.

I think it lies in the modern Enlightenment ideology about all men being "equal" and all that rot - people are not equal. They are different! And they have every bloody right to defend their "differences" and uniqueness.

Enlightenment "all men are born equal" meant that humans are capable of reasoning, therefore granted liberty, and therefore equal under the law. It did not mean that capacity and characteristics were equivalent. Segregation is not inherently discouraged, as we accept socioeconomic and skill segregation throughout society. However, racial segregation privileges racial categories at the expense of capacity differences.

I am more interested in the different ways with which that Jefferson line have been interpreted over the years. Not all men are capable of reasoning to the same extent. Nor do all people apply reason uniformly to reach similar conclusions.

Sure, the law has to treat everyone the same while meting out justice. I wholeheartedly agree with that. But if people want to self-segregate and feel that helps them reach a better outcome, what is wrong with that?

Whenever segregation is mentioned, people conjure up imagines of chattel slavery, the American south, Jim Crow and all that. But that is just one extreme form of segregation which was not voluntary by any means. But then there are many other forms of segregation which are almost entirely voluntary. Eg : Caste endogamy in India where people marry among their own set, with similar beliefs, traditions and inclinations, without necessarily looking down upon other groups or inhibiting the freedoms of other groups.

Based on what criteria? You cool with “self-segregation” by race?
Btw - if you think Switzerland is an example for “self-segregation,” you don’t know Switzerland.

I am fine with self-segregation as long as it is the choice made by the community in question and is not enforced top down.

I agree with you that social segregation need not social evil. to this day in almost all the villages in India the residential areas are segregated by caste and this was the outcome of centuries of social evolution.generally the caste groups live in harmony though sadly there are cases of atrocities on lower caste groups .

in the village i am visiting now diffrent caste groups have economic dealings with each other and all benefit. Nothing wrong about this kind of spontaneous segregation as long as benefits outweigh costs. The problem arises when people of different castes want to marry. In most cases the worst that happens in social boycott. but in extreme cases the couple are murdered to "uphold the honor of the family".

In a good chunk of cases nothing worse happens besides some long faces and estrangement for a few years. Worth mentioning that too.

I'm pretty sure the folks on the low end of the caste system are far less happy with the system than those on the top. Marrying outside your caste would make your parents and peers very disapproving, especially if you are marrying "down". For many years in the US we had a self segregated society, but it was only satisfying to the people on the top of the heap.

Diversity plus proximity means war. Different tribes cannot coexist in the same territory as equals. One must enslave or exterminate the other. That, unfortunately, is inherent in our nature.

Observe how recent racist murders of whites by non whites in majority minority areas have been met with social approval and social rewards. This is just the way it is.

Assimilation is possible. Integration is simply not possible. And we are seeing this demonstrated today. #KateSteinle. Whites cannot be equal with groups they share a territory with. If not superior, are being forced to be inferior.

Even if groups are truly equal, like the different linguistic groups in Switzerland, this makes assimilation easier, but it does not make integration easier, or even possible.

It is not in the capability of reasoning that the enlightenment held--holds--all men to be equal. They manifestly are not. (The men of the enlightenment were not angels, but they were not fools, either.) Moreover, in their view you do not lose on whit of your humanity or equality when you are stressed, asleep, drunk, menstruating, comatose, or even when you are a child, crazy, or unconscious. And if you are alive and human before you are born--that is disputed--then you retain your equality then, too.

The Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment held men to be equal in being created by Nature and Nature's God with self-evident rights (among others) to life, liberty, and (depending on your source) either property or the pursuit of happiness. Self. Evident.

"people are not equal. They are different"

As determined by their birth circumstances, of course...

The problem is that social segregation tends to lead to the isolation, ostracism, and economic exclusion of small minorities when the dominant group chooses to socially segregate themselves from the smaller group.
A relatively small group which is being discriminated against by the dominant group is always going to be economically disadvantaged because it necessarily has a smaller market for employers, labor, customers, etc.
The small group is forced to patronize the larger group's businesses, while the larger group always has the option of excluding the small group. I.e. whites can get along just fine discriminating against blacks, but blacks don't have that option, they can't realistically isolate themselves from white society because they are too small of a minority (12%) to be able to afford refusing to hire or do business with whites. Thus justice requires that the dominant group make posiitve efforts to refrain from socially excluding the smaller minority.


How does your model do projecting the fates of Asians, Jews, and Hispanics in the US? It seems like black/white discrimination in the US is a kind of special case.

A cogent reply, but a disappointing one from you. I expect more logical and economics based reasoning from you.

Firms will not care about race. They’re under selective pressure due to competition. They’re going to hire the best talent at the cheapest rate they can get.

If that means women, blacks, trans people, gays, amputees....

As soon as there’s discrimination there’s a market opportunity to hire talent more cheaply than your competitor. The descriminator loses market share unless it’s customer based discrimination.

That ain’t what we see in the data.

Nonsense. if your customers avoid patronizing firms that employ blacks (i.e. the customers are socially segregating), then there would be a profit incentive not to hire blacks. The result will be that there will be some equilibrium in which there is a static wage differential at the point where the lower wages cancel out the revenue from lost customers.

Aside: Social segregation may also impact working relations between employees. If your labor pool is 90% white and the whites don't like working with blacks, hiring them may be more costly than it is worth. Saying that discrimiation cant exist because businesses will be under selective pressure is just way too simplistic. If the dominant group is socially segregating the "selective pressure" may well select in favor of discrimination.

A reasonable argument - but selectively applied.

Your argument concludes that coexistence of different tribes in close proximity is a moral imperative because of justice and equality - but the fact that you are selectively applying it would suggest that coexistence of different tribes in close proximity is unlikely to result in justice or equality.

Whites have some grievances also. (Brittany Herring Covington seems a whole lot more impressive as an example of social and state support for racist murder than does Emmett Till. Would you like someone to take a check on the count of racist murders by tribe?)

And if both tribes were to start grievance mongering, that would demonstrate the impracticality of different tribes coexisting as equals in close proximity. If, on the other hand, only one tribe gets its grievances counted as mattering, that is not in fact equality, which also demonstrates the impracticality of different tribes coexisting as equals in close proximity.

The "I live my life and you live yours.... except that I'm king over you, and you'd better pay me taxes and clean my toilets and if you touch me I'll kill you" of historical Caste is not exactly the Swiss cantons

Haha. Such a shallow understanding of Indian history.

For the most part, Indian history involves both Brahmins and Dalits and everyone else paying taxes to Shudra kings and later casteless Muslim kings.

And regarding toilet cleaning - only a small proportion of Dalits were engaged in it.

And yet you confirm that there is a power structure of caste and jati groups over others. Even if we accept your comment, your dubious assertion, and "Shudra Kings" and not "Kshatriya Kings", this is far from a "I live my life and you live yours" ideal of self governing separate communities which adopt policies of free trade and the open exchange of knowledge with each other.

Though in any case, "Kshatriya failed to be the ruling Caste when, in contrast to their self cultivated warrior image, they were beaten up and dispossessed by Iranian and Central Asia Muslisms who cared not a whit for Caste and absent-mindedly disestablished it", is hardly a ringing endorsement for actually instituting a Caste system.

There is no caste system. There are castes. And many local systems. No overarching system.

"Shudra kings" is not a dubious assertion. A lot of great Indian empires were Shudra empires - Cholas, Mauryas, Nandas, Pandyas,...

M, while there are cases of terrible atrocities on dalits in villages, it is not that this happens everyday. Mostly, villagers get along in a social setting that is of course not ideal . However it is true that when there is eonomic boycott of caste groups, it is always the dalits who are victims: they do not have the means to inflict boycott on others to have their way even if they are the majority since mostly they are landless and economically vulnerable. Always, it is the upper castes who force the dalits to toe their line through boycott.

If you think segregation is the way for peaceful relations among "different tribes" you're naïve and lacking some history knowledge.

And this is not to say Segregation doesn't have its costs.

Ofcourse it does. But it has its benefits too.

The liberal types never ever give a fair hearing to the benefits of social segregation. Instead it is just one long litany where they persistently bemoan the costs of segregation, as if there are no plusses at all.

If segregation meant whites in poverty and non whites wealthy and powerful, would you see segregation as positive if things were peaceful?

In US history, isolated black towns that were relatively prosperous came under attack from outside whites who killed and burned out the segregated blacks.

My guess is a great deal of equality exists between Swiss communities, so inequality within a group dominates conflict and gets resolved peacefully.

"If segregation meant whites in poverty and non whites wealthy and powerful, would you see segregation as positive if things were peaceful?"

Sure. We already see that. Hoboken in NJ is mostly white, and not as affluent. The nearby Newport is full of Indians and Chinese, and is more affluent. Similar remark can be made about parts of Silicon Valley, Edison New Jersey.

I guess Hoboken wasn't such a good pick to make my point. As it is only marginally poorer than Newport.

Let's take Weehawken. 72% White. Median household income : $62K

Newport - Less than 35% white (can't find an exact figure). Median household income : $121K

Try again, weehawken is 40% Hispanic. Part of Havana on the Hudson.

It is also 72% white.


White and non white hispanics meet very different outcomes as a group.

That's the point I'm trying to make. Weehawken is 40% Hispanic and 32% white, not 72% white. Look it up.

Census lumps both together as white, but then notes how many of the whites are Hispanic.

I thought the census does distinguish between white Hispanics and non white hispanics

On the census Hispanic and non Hispanic is separate from ethnic race, White, Black, Asian etc. A person can be White and Hispanic or non Hispanic and Black and Hispanic or Non Hispanic

> In US history, isolated black towns that were relatively prosperous came under attack from outside whites who killed and burned out the segregated blacks.


This is pc history. The towns in question were far from isolated, and the violence always started with the overlap. What typically happened was that a mob of blacks attacked whites over some grievance, or just for the hell of it, and whites then proceeded to push blacks back

What a load of bullshit. You're quite the snowflake.

> What a load of bullshit. You’re quite the snowflake

That you respond to a claim about the facts with a personal attack tells me that you have precisely zero evidence from primary sources for your claim that whites attacked black townships in the US that had good separation.

The problem is that the costs are disproportionately bourne by minorities and results in structurally unequal outcomes based purely on group membership rather than merit.

Diversity, Liberty or Equality. Choose one.

You cant have liberty without political and legal equality.

So if the market won't recognize equality--and the market doesn't--then we need a well-funded, well-armed government to put its thumb on the scale.

The market has nothing to do with political and legal equality. Political and legal equality are (again) prerequsites for a free market.

Political and legal equality are (again) prerequsites for a free market.

All a market requires is two parties willing to exchange one commodity for another. The fact that one side may have more leverage in the transaction may violate somebody's sense of fairness but it's not the sine qua non for markets. Bill Gates will always be able to get a loan on better terms than I will. In fact, any attempt to force the bank to treat me the same way it would treat Bill Gates would obscure a lot of signaling functions.

Hazel is talking about political and legal equality and you are talking about economic equality.

Liberals want to practice segregation and do so all the time.

THEIR children get to go to private schools. Everyone else's children must go to public schools.

c.f. Matt Damon

I found ok. It is said in Brazil the reason in Brazil why Switzerland is peaceful is Nam que melior fratribus, quibus minor natu eft, Jupiter ? Cur illi devorari potuerunt, non hic? Cur item proles feminem incolumis? Denique ft Jovem Saturni Filium

Christiana Orthodoxa Theologia, In Academia Kiowiensi A Theophane

Causation may be reversed. It may be diverse because these barriers have limited homogenization. It is probably difficult to avoid without them.

"Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence." I suspect the authors are incorrectly applying the concept of diversity: diversity can be a stabilizing influence provided there's sufficient diversity so that no one group dominates. It's diversity within a context of dominance that creates conflict and instability. One need look no further than the U.S. to see how dominance creates instability. Or consider Syria, in which roughly 85% of the Muslim population is Sunni while the government is Shiite (Alawite). Or consider Lebanon, which has experienced relative stability recently, a country with an almost even split of the Muslim population between Sunni and Shiite. Of course, a country or region with a single ethnicity/religion may experience stability, but history reflects that people with the same ethnicity/religion somehow find or create differences that often lead to conflict and instability; after all, at one time all Christians were Catholic. There's a joke about informing one's friends that it's time to leave: let's make like the Baptists and split.

I would think that the US has been far more stable than Lebanon, the difference even more pronounced if you consider most of the last century. Even the current conflicts in US seem to have been created after the "diversity" voices became stronger (of course, this last has less to do with diversity and more to do with the elitist condescension and belligerent nature of "diversity" activists).

US is not as "diverse" as people make it out to be.

There is a great deal of superficial racial diversity. But cultural diversity is very minimal. The immigrants lose their culture within 20-30 years of moving here. The country is monolingual for the most part. And nominally Christian (in practice it follows the religion of hedonism and materialism).

Yes, "diversity" voices seek more diversity of the superficial type. But even those voices are incredibly intolerant of real diversity in thought and speech and culture. There are very very few far-right or far-left voices in the US. Contrast that with India, where the political diversity is far greater, ranging from Naxalites who want to remake society to Akhand Hindu Bharat advocates who nurse the hope of India recapturing Pakistan someday.

Immigrants simultaneously accept and change prevailing culture. Their grandkids express their unique histories despite speaking perfect English. If you identify third generation Indian and Korean Americans as a monoculture, there might be something wrong with your perception.

"But even those voices are incredibly intolerant of real diversity in thought and speech and culture."
"Real diversity" = demon worshipping-based caste discrimination ...

"Akhand Hindu Bharat advocates who nurse the hope of India recapturing Pakistan someday."

Now that you mention that, there are very few, if any, mainstream voices in Germany hoping to recapture Poland and Norway... What an unfair world! Maybe India should make something out of itself before thinking about military conquest.

Poland and Norway were never a part of Germanic cultural zone. While Pakistan is the birthplace of Hinduism. The birthplace of Sanatana Dharma. It is our holy land. And a part of India for several thousand years.

There is no reason to believe there was an "India" before the Westerners took civilization to India. There were only backward warring kingdoms in the subcontinent.

Also, there is reason to believe there was "Hinduism", there was a group of disjointed demon-worshipping cults, which have, in opposition to Western Christianity, been conflated in what is now called "Hinduism".

Contrary to what you are saying, civilization revived in the West during the end of the middle ages thanks to a revolution in mathematics (the decimal number system) which traveled from India to the West through the Arabs.

Western civilization, whose ascent dates back to Italy and Fibonacci, owes its rebirth to India and HIndus.

No. Western Civilization dates back to Rome and Greece and their intellectual accomplishments.

Wrong. The Classical heritage was lost to northern Europe until 1200s-1300s when there was a revival largely driven by Arab science (which in turn borrowed greatly from Hindu math).

The classical heritage was preserved in Byzantium, which was in regular communication with Italy. And preserved as well in the Christian Church which transmitted northward into lands the Romans had never ruled, beginning with Ireland.
European civilization had long ago recovered from the collapse of Rome by the 15th century-- it was one several great Old World civilization well before that point and the notion the the entire Middle Ages was nothing but a Dark Age is historical nonsense.

The diversity thing in the US is pretty much BS. It extends to exotic foods that don't offend prevailing morals (can't eat dog or horse)and colorful ethnic clothing and dances in their correct context. Diversity goes out the window when it involves marriage to 14 year-old girls and other tribal cultural artifacts. Diversity must respect the Puritan/Protestant world view.

Yes. Cousin marriage for instance is Taboo with a capital T. Gay marriage however is OK.

I am fine with this cultural policing. But do let other countries police their cultures similarly. If the Puritan world view is so very important to US (which I grant it is), the brahminical world view is important to India. So is the Shia world view to Iran.

"the brahminical world view is important to India."

Demon-worshipping is not important, it is just deleterious.

Real diversity creates balance, balance of power. Our post-WWII strategy for maintaining stability was based on a balance of power, not dominance. And it was successful, the proof being that we are still here. Many of the comments reveal either ignorance of that strategy or rejection of it; indeed, my observation is that Trumpism is a rejection of the strategy. I'm a firm believer in balance, whether political, cultural, or economic. Today, the economy is out of balance and, thus unstable. Cowen knows it, any critical thinker knows it. The middle east is out of balance and, thus, unstable. Cowen knows it, any critical thinker knows it.

I think the HBD people (I'm not one of them) would argue that Switzerland is not THAT diverse. The people there are are all Western-Central Europeans, albeit speaking different languages and practicing slightly different religions.

It's the kind of diversity that many parts of India have (and had in the past, when the country was divided into many different kingdoms or empires.) The range of diversities on exhibit in the neighborhood is so familiar to people that it doesn't bother anyone.

The biggest wars in history were between Western-Central Europeans speaking different languages and practicing slightly different religions. Switzerland is sufficiently diverse to support violence.

Also HBD is worthless.

That's an interesting rebuttal. But I am curious to know to what extent the Thirty Years War was motivated by political considerations as opposed to cultural / religious considerations.

Differences in language and ethnicity among Europeans we’re associated with all the horrors of the two world wars, including the holocaust. Switzerland remained a multiethnic, multi religious society when the multiethnic Austria-Hungary was a godawful mess, and remained a peaceful and prosperous country full of German and French speakers when Germans and Frenchmen were lobbing gas shells at each other and machine-gunning each other across barbed wire. It’s worth asking how they managed that.

America and the USSR occupied the entire continent between them, and in the interest of maintaining their focus on each other, the great powers suppressed all internal strife.

Those American bases in Germany were as much to keep an eye on the Continentals as to keep the Ruskies out.

That's fine, but that comparison is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Diversity of that nature led to violence 100+ years ago, but the author is probably making reference to the types of diversity that cause violence today. That type of diversity is more like black, white, muslim sects, &c in its categorization, not German vs French.

What changed in the last 100 years? The genes are still more or less the same, the thing that changed is the institutional situation in Europe- France and Germany are not only are better off cooperating than fighting, but they have the means to do it.

As far as terrorism/riots/whatever in Europe today, I think its pretty clear that the Muslim minorities are kept poor, alienated, and idle. Throw in some millenarian ideology and you've got a recipe for trouble. Trouble on a vastly smaller scale than Franco-German violence 100 years ago, I might add, despite the much larger differences.

Not even remotely true.

If you can’t understand the difference between murdering cartoonists/concert goers and fighting a war, then just please stop saying words.

Random murder of innocents is not the same as armies in combat.

That was the whole god damned idea. Soldiers instead of random bystanders.

No murder of innocents in WWII? Right.

My guess is that global immigration to Europe led to people who once considered themselves superior in a localized national sense (e.g. French v German), have banded together in how similar they are relative to other races and religions. For example, the French and Germans stopped seeing themselves as distinct when they were able to compare themselves to middle easterners. In this sense, Switzerland is 95% of "the same" white people, and 5% minority. Pretty far from diverse in my mind.

HBD are racist idiots. But you’re spreading falsehoods.

The honest accountability:

Atheist Communism comes in at a huge lead
Islamic war comes in a close second
Atheist Fascism comes in at a decent third

Christian large deaths come from WW1 only.


How are you counting? Do you have links to some source of numbers for this stuff? It’s not obvious how to count religious wars where there were other reasons to fight. Spain was Catholic and the Ottoman Empire was Muslim but it’s not so clear that we should count everybody impaled on a Spanish pike as a victim of Catholicism or everybody beheaded by an Ottoman sword as a victim of Islam.

India is a LOT more diverse than Switzerland on every dimension. And Crime in India is not that much worse than in Switzerland, despite being a much much poorer country.


Ofcourse the Indo-phobic West doesn't want to acknowledge this.

"Indophobic west" is a very unfair accusation. This is a fair description for a handful of elite liberal journos who cover India, but most other westerners innocently accept their distortion simply because they have no a priori reason to believe otherwise.

Ofcourse I am talking about the opinion makers in the West. They are the ones that matter.

"And Crime in India is not that much worse than in Switzerland, despite being a much much poorer country. Of course the Indo-phobic West doesn’t want to acknowledge."

When failure goes to one's head... Apparently, we should apply to India the soft bigotry of low expectations. Sad...
Let us be blunt, we are talking about a savage society which worships demons and where everyone tries to explore his brother.

Data illiterates like yourself don't belong in this erudite space.

Last time JWatts pointed out that this guy is Thiago Ribeiro with a different handle. He is here just to troll. Don't feed the troll, you will only waste yourself.

It is sad to see how savages must attack those who unmask their lies... As a Brazilian bassador pointed out in the 1940s, India was not ready for self-government. The last 70 years proved it clearly.

That is a very legitimate view to have, and it would be sad if only HBD people feel comfortable having it.

"The people there are are all Western-Central Europeans"

Yep. The racial diversity is far far greater in India. The racial chasm between a Kashmiri Pandit and a Tamil Irula person is far greater than anything in Western Europe (leave alone Switzerland).

Caste in India has served as a humane way of handling the enormous racial diversity. But this is seldom acknowledged by anyone. Men like Ambedkar have perpetuated the lie that caste has nothing to do with race.

"Caste in India has served as a humane way of handling the enormous racial diversity."

Yep, "humane"...

If we're trying to quantify these things, Fst distance between Kashmiri Pandits and Kurumba from Kerala is about 0.0124 per David Reich (https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nature/journal/v461/n7263/extref/nature08365-s1.pdf). About comparable to British and Syrians who have the same Fst. Probably about 2x that between British and Sicilians, who are separate at about 0.006, if we're talking about people who are roughly similar distances apart.

Of course, difference between Caste groups in same regions will be less. This paper from 2016 (https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/srep/2016/160113/srep19166/extref/srep19166-s1.pdf) suggests distance is about 0.005 between Uttar Pradesh Upper Caste and Uttar Pradesh Low Caste.

"The people there are are all Western-Central Europeans, albeit speaking different languages and practicing slightly different religions."

That's part of it, but it should also be pointed out that most Swiss people whatever their language consider themselves as Swiss people, with Germans calling themselves German-speaking Swiss rather than ethnic Germans, the French calling themselves French-speaking Swiss rather than French, ect. We are used to nationalism forming on the lines of language, Switzerland provides an exception to that rule. Thus, there was little desire among German-speaking Swiss to join Germany in 1871 or 1938, nor of the Protestant French-speakers to join Catholic France.

There are probably "sweet spots" for how diversity+size and conflict intensity.

India for example is divided locally to an extremely fragmented and territorially overlapping extent. That makes intensifying a military fiscal state, where a shared government taxes intensively to fund new weapons and pay and support troops and so is actually effective at waging wars, pretty damn hard to do effectively. So good amounts of war but perhaps not at very high intensity or capability. It's never really the case that in India, for all its diversity, there ever was a dalit state (for example, I'm simplified - I know that jatis and tribes are the real deal here) that was a unified, separate cultural entity with its own language that would or could wage war across borders to be reunited with its dalit brothers suffering as a minority in a separate state of brahmins. Likewise for a guerrila insurgency (a la the IRA, or ETA).

Switzerland is actually pretty structured in its local division, in contrast, but quite differently to the Balkan case where there's also structured division. Switzerland is, for instance, an independent league which has insisted on neutrality in external all wars since 1815 and only maintained a defensive stance since then. The culture of being entangled in and prone to belligerent war, then, is quite different from for instance Balkan states who threw off the Ottoman or Soviet yoke. It's also very central and prosperous in the West European trade system (centre of the Blue Banana distance from Switzerland is still not a bad proxy for European GDP/capita and education metrics).

The different religions thing was an active enough fault line to have torn most of Central Europe to bloody shreds back in the 1600s.

And those HBD people would be correct. "Diversity" between Italian-speaking and German-speaking Swiss is a diversity of the most superficial sort. If Switzerland's diversity consisted of 15% Africans and 20% Latinos, like the US, it would be much less peaceful. Israel, split between truly "diverse" Jews and Muslims, is not peaceful. Much of Latin America, where there is little ethnic diversity, is not peaceful. Singapore is ethnically diverse, and yet quite peaceful. And so on. Diversity is not an ingredient that affects a country's peacefulness; it's the people. If your country imports millions of violence-prone people, regardless of their ethnicity, your country will become less peaceful, and more violent. This is tragically happening throughout Europe, except in the Eastern European countries that have been resisting.

'Much of Latin America, where there is little ethnic diversity'

Really? You honestly believe that?

'Mexico’s population is composed of many ethnic groups, including indigenous American Indians (Amerindians), who account for nearly one-fifth of the total, and Mexicans of European heritage (“whites”), who constitute between one-tenth and one-fifth of the total. Generally speaking, the mixture of indigenous and European peoples has produced the largest segment of the population today—mestizos, who account for between one-half and two-thirds of the total—via a complex blending of ethnic traditions and perceived ancestry.' https://www.britannica.com/place/Mexico/Ethnic-groups

How about Brasil? 'For the first time since records began black and mixed race people form the majority of Brazil's population, the country's latest census has confirmed.

Preliminary results from the 2010 census, released on Wednesday, show that 97 million Brazilians, or 50.7% of the population, now define themselves as black or mixed race, compared with 91 million or 47.7% who label themselves white.' https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/17/brazil-census-african-brazilians-majority

In Peru, the Quechuas and the Aymaras are two distinct ethnic groups (and about 45% of the population), along with mestizos at 37%, and white Europeans at 15% - http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/major-ethnic-groups-of-peru.html

Latin America was ethically diverse even before slave importing Europeans showed up to add to the diversity.

Hardly superficial: the German-Romance (northern/southern) fault line in Europe is arguably the major cultural fault line in Europe, and has been since antiquity. Lots and lots of blood has been spilled along the fault line.

Fences make good neighbors? Impassible mountains work even better?

Clearly defined boundaries might be part of that. Would be interesting to see what fraction of national borders are demarcated by rivers.

Quite a few - but not really because rivers are impassable (the Rhine is a border between France and Germany, until it isn't - right around Karlsruhe), but instead because they can be so easily used as indisputable markers.

The natural policy prescription of this area of research would be partition. Yet we know partition doesn't work (Eritrea, South Sudan...)

It depends on the human capital. South Korea and Singapore have done spectacularly under partition. Israel seems to do well partitioned off from its Arab neighbors. The Lebanese seem content not to be part of Greater Syria. Tibet would like to be partitioned from China.

Tyler mentions that he finds salutary effects from well-defined borders "depressing." It's odd how people who cheerlead for Diversity seem the most uncomfortable with actual diversity. Is everywhere supposed to be like everywhere else?

Correction. Alex.

'I would focus more on political decentralization as an explanation'

You might, but anyone aware of how diligently the Swiss monitor everything would more likely say that it is the effectiveness of the Swiss surveillance culture.

And this is silly in the specific case of Basel, a part of Switzerland that does not stand out because of conflicts - 'rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups' There are no mountains and lakes forming a barrier between the French and German speakers in that region - in Basel, in France, or in Germany. Though of course, one could argue that Basel is sufficiently mixed as the reason for being peaceful. Unless one counts the events of the 1830s, which included what was essentially a civil war between urban and rural interests, leading to the splitting of Basel into two cantons - 'After 1830 there were political quarrels and armed conflict in the canton of Basel. Some of these were concerned with the rights of the population in the agricultural areas. They ultimately led to the separation of the canton Basel-Landschaft from the city of Basel on 26 August 1833. Since then, there has been a movement for reunification. This movement gained momentum after 1900 when many parts of Basel-Landschaft became industrialized ' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basel-Landschaft Strangely enough, neither ethnicity nor religion seemed to have been seriously involved, just a feeling that rural residents were being treated unfairly by a rich urban class, a feeling that erupted into violence.

Having driven from Zurich to Geneva just last weekend, someone ought to explain me the clear geographical demarcation between German and French part. I would buy it for Italian part more easily

Come now, this is the wrong place to be bringing up anecdotes when stories are being shared.

And it would be enjoyable to see how Belgium fits into this model, with its impressive mountains and vast lakes, being roughly as peaceful as Switzerland since the 1830s, when the nation became independent.

Oh no, the Gotthard base tunnel is a menace to Swiss prosperity :(

Perhaps relates to another recent Marginal Revolution blog - "A simple theory of gene-culture co-evolution, with reference to immigration." To the extent Switzerland can be seen as historically populated by migrants and refugees from surrounding areas, then having Cantons for populations to assimilate to might mean less disruption to their mental health -- their histories of gene-culture evolution.

'Switzerland can be seen as historically populated by migrants and refugees from surrounding areas'

If only that was accurate, it might be an explanation. The history of the Alemanns, as one concrete example, shows it is not - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamannia Unless, of course, one grants that European history is full of groups of people being forced from one place to another - the last example being Yugoslavia, though the truly major recent shifts involved WWII.

But maybe this need to find such narratives is genetically based, right?


This is in line with Bisin et al who present evidence that ethnic identification intensifies with out group contact: http://www.nyu.edu/econ/user/bisina/Beckham_NBER%2010-10-05%20wft.pdf

"I am Chani, daughter of Liet.... I would not have permitted you to harm my tribe." Dune (1984 )

Why isnt anyone pointing out the obvious:

Switzerland is a rich country that is highly selective on who it lets in. All of Switzerlands immigrants are rich professionals. Rich professionals are civil and non-violent. Switzerlands immigrants were non-randomly selected on the basis of their violent tendencies to begin with.

Heritability really seems like a blindspot for George Mason economists, which is funny since none of you seem to dismiss heritability. If ones personality, including ones propensity to crime and violence, is greatly heritable, then immigration from violent parts of the world usually means more violence for where they immigrate to. You would need some pretty strong empirical evidence to defeat these fundamental ideas about evolution and human biology (I really hope someone can show me such empirical evidence). I understand that there are huge economic gains from immigration, and perhaps that makes it all worth it.

'Switzerland is a rich country that is highly selective on who it lets in.'

You seem to have missed this - 'Switzerland has rejected imposing quotas on EU workers in a bid to preserve its close economic ties with the bloc, opting instead to try to curb immigration by giving residents priority in new job vacancies.

Parliament voted to pass a compromise immigration law, marking a significant climbdown which the country hopes will allow it continued enhanced access to the EU’s single market following a 2014 referendum vote to cap EU immigration.

In a standoff with close parallels to Britain’s situation after the Brexit vote, Brussels had refused to budge from its stance that any attempt to restrict free movement by caps or quotas would automatically exclude Switzerland from the single market.

A quarter of Switzerland’s population – about 2 million people – are foreigners, including 1.4 million EU citizens, with 365,000 more commuting in daily from neighbouring EU countries France, Germany and Italy.' https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/16/switzerland-u-turn-quotas-on-eu-workers-immigration

No Im not missing any of that. Heres why I doubt the relevance of that information

0 Its just hard to immigrate to Switzerland. The regulatory hurtles are higher and the time and energy it takes to get Swiss residency are higher. They have rules like your neighbors have to vote on whether to accept you, and that you have to be sufficiently fond of Swiss culture. The ability to clear all those obstacles is itself a filter against violent people, since only smart productive people have the wealth and know-how to overcome them.
1 Despite its large immigrant population, its GDP per capita is far above that of other European countries, which is consistent with their immigrants being highly skilled.
2 Perhaps Switzerland has changed its rules like your junky news article says. Is that significant in the full scope of things? Probably not. I dont know how big a deal that change is. Even if it was a big deal its only a year old, so its effects havent been seen which makes it irrelevant to discussing the current immigrants in Switzerland who came in under different rules. Furthermore, its still possible that they have gone from extremely limited immigration, to more open immigration without opening up to unskilled workers or foreigners from violent parts of the world.

I could be wrong, and I would like to be demonstrated so. I think if a demographic break down on Swiss immigrants showed that they arent the professional educated productive people I would be shown wrong.

**...they arent the professional educated productive people I think they are I would be shown wrong.**

This is almost entirely wrong. For EU citizens it's trivially easy to immigrate, the voting part revolves around citizenship (and is not true in all places even there).

Highly skilled immigration is also a somewhat recent phenomenon, in the 20th century it would have been a lot of manual labor instead.

'Its just hard to immigrate to Switzerland.' - For EU citizens, it is anything but, if one means to take up residency and work in Switzerland. To become a Swiss citizen is quite difficult, but the EU requires free movement between all countries participating in the common market (something the Little Englanders seem to have trouble realizing, to be honest). Obviously, if the Swiss were to decide to leave the common market, then residency and work for EU citizens would become much harder.

'and the time and energy it takes to get Swiss residency are higher' - See above in terms of EU citizens. And yes, I know EU citizens who live and work in Switzerland, and it requires roughly the same amount of effort for a German citizen to reside and work in Switzerland as it does France.

'They have rules like your neighbors have to vote on whether to accept you' - That is for citizenship, not residency and work as an EU citizen.

'Perhaps Switzerland has changed its rules like your junky news article says' - Would you prefer a Swiss link? 'Arbeiten in der Schweiz für Personen aus einem EU/EFTA-Land

Für Angehörige der EU-25*/EFTA** gilt die volle Personenfreizügigkeit. Das heisst, sie dürfen in die Schweiz einreisen, hier leben und arbeiten.' https://www.ch.ch/de/arbeiten-schweiz-personen-eu-efta/

'I could be wrong, and I would like to be demonstrated so.' - The Swiss government link above should be more than adequate to demonstrate that. I'm sure there must be an English language link, but to be honest, why bother? You could actually look for yourself, of course - try something along the lines of 'EU, residency, work Switzerland' as search terms.

Id like to concede that I was wrong regarding the residency / citizenship stuff, and I appreciate you all setting me straight. I am an American, but I am one who lives in Germany currently.

But I do think a more basic HBD thesis hasnt been threatened yet. A peaceful Switzerland made up of EU immigrants is consistent with Europeans being genetically peaceful people.

" A peaceful Switzerland made up of EU immigrants is consistent with Europeans being genetically peaceful people."

All the countless millions who have died in brutal European wars and Nazi gas chambers are going hahahahaha. You HBD people are ridiculous.

@Dmitri: oh no, silly, the European genome has changed dramatically in the last 70 years. Except in the Balkans, their genomes didn't change until 20 or so years ago. It's all biological.

I live in Switzerland with a B permit, this year I get a C permit, neighbors did not vote on this. If you think,most immigrants in Switzerland are high skilled....you have a pretty low bar. Yes, there are foreign scientists, engineers, doctors but they're outnumbered by comically stereotypical laborers from EU 27

Assuming that HBD Person is an American, their confusion is typically American. The term 'immigrant' to an American pretty much means becoming an American citizen if one moves to the U.S. - which is the basis for the green card, technically.

But the idea that somebody can move to another country, be a resident and work, without becoming a citizen of that country, or wanting to spend your life there, is simply not part of how Americans look at immigration. Very binary - you either go to a country to become a citizen and spend the rest of your life there, or you don't go at all. Leading to the fact that they really don't grasp how the EU works in terms of free movement, at all.

You can see it in American commenters here all the time - I have lived in Germany for 25 years, and have absolutely no intention of ever becoming a German citizen. Yet this seems absolutely alien to their way of thinking, because obviously someone living and working in another country is clearly an immigrant, meaning that they will obviously become citizens of the country they currently live in.

I'm also an HBD person, and it's very unhelpful when people just make things up. Switzerland's immigration policy is a whole lot better than Sweden's but very far from "all of its immigrants are rich professionals."

I read "a whole lot better" to mean "greatly selective in favor of rich professionals, and more so than most every other country", which is the substance of what I was saying. I therefore read us as being in agreement and you could probably find agreement in what I said too if you looked past my speaking in generalizations.

Well, if 'generalization' means utterly uninformed, that is.

Have you ever considered that traits are culturally inheritable? Why posit genetic inheritance when culture can explain much of it?
The Swiss by the way may be peaceful today, but that is not true over all their history. The reason the Pope still has a Swiss Guard is because Swiss warriors were reputed to be the fiercest fighters in Europe. After the Thirty Years War Swiss independence was guaranteed, and claims by external dynasties to the land were annulled, ion the stipulation that the Swiss never send armies outside their borders again, with an exception for the afore-mentioned Swiss Guard. Another example of a once violent culture which became pacific is Scandinavia. Culture is a much more flexible explanation than genes for these things, one fitting the historical record more easily.

Switzerland did have several civil wars during the Reformation, largely between Catholics and Protestants. And its wealth is a relatively recent phenomenon. As its its neutrality, actually.

Per Angus Maddison, it acquired its place as Europe's most affluent country about a century ago.

Perhaps because the Swiss sense of self gelled before language came to delineate nations and the cantonal boundaries allow subfractions their own room in the house.

And here we have Bryan Caplan demonstrating why Bryan Caplan should have no influence over anything more consequential than a chia pet:


Ah, geopolitics applied to Switzerland! "In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas." Utter nonsense. The main linguistic boundary between the German and French speaking parts of the country runs north-south across all kinds of territories. It's a total mess, and ethnicity has nothing to do with it. It runs through cities - Biel/Bienne is a bilingual city, as is Fribourg. The area between Fribourg and Biel/Bienne in the Mittelland, around Morat, is a patchwork of different language groups and confessions, with the language barrier sometimes shifting from one village to the other. If anything, you could say that a state of permanent civil war – religious, cultural – is baked into the institutional framework of modern Swiss democracy, and that the current system of government, which was put in place, by the way, after a confessional civil war between the Protestant north and the Catholic south in 1848, serves to prevent these tensions from ever becoming virulent again. That, and a correction of everything that Tocqueville found to be lacking about the Swiss system of governance in his "Democracy in America", plus a through application of Tocqueville's main insight, which is that the wellspring of Democracy is tax authority and budget control at the community level.

That! Well put. This paper is nonsense indeed.

More likely explanations for Swiss peacefulness are subsidiarity and prosperity.

And the country is not without problems: Their biggest party is right-wing populist, openly xenophobic and racist.

Rich people get along the world over. The Swiss are rich. This is an argument for GDP driven happiness, with a limit set by inequality of course.

See also current US tax negotiations, rumors of reductions in transfers, and as Tyler would say, solve for equilibrium.

They do today. They didn't in 1914 or 1938.

1914 was an age of empire thing, but 1939 is definitely related to 1929.

Oh, hit submit a bit too quick.

2016 is also definitely related to 2007.

I live in Switzerland.

Switzerland did not participate in WW1/WW2 - despite that they were as peaceful as their neighbors (lots of skirmishes/wars before the second half of 19th century). Switzerland always had similar crime levels as their western European neighbors. So in terms of peacefulness, the only question is why didnt Switzerland participate in the world wars?

Switzerland was historically more diverse then their neighbors due to having four different lingustic. Nevertheless, this is offset as these lingustic groups are very segregated, Switzerland is very politically decentralized and they have a shared "bond" of needing each other in order to remain a seperate nation. As other European nations, only since the19 70s did Switzerland receive a large amount of immigrants. Now-a-days Switzerland is as diverse as Germany, Austria and Italy (though less than France) in-terms of having non-european or muslim immigrants (and Switzerland has similar issues with them). The only area where Switzerland is more diverse is that it has more western-european immigration (Switzerland has a lot of skilled french, german, italian, spanish, etc. immigrants)... but then I dont see how western-european immigration into a western-european country would now-a-day ever change the level of "peacefulness"...

So in my opinion the authors kind of missed it here... I find more interesting - why are Turkish people in Germany more "backwards" (defined as beeing pro Erdogan/AKP and MHP) than Turkish people in Switzerland. That would be a good research question!

Swiss independence was established by treaty after the Thirty Years War, and the Swiss were in return banned from participating in wars outside their borders.

Problem starts here:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Light edits:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

"Created equal" refers to moral equality (i.e. equality in the eyes of God), not to equal merit or intrinsic abilities.
Even if HBD was correct, that wouldn't make Africans morally inferior people, less deserving of the same rights and legal status.
Nobody has ever claimed that "created equal" means that everyone has equal intelligence, or talent or ability.

In practice, it means equal in the eyes of the law, as the revolutionaries of that time were rejecting the very idea of a monarch being above the law due to their birth.

Yes. They weren't talking about wealth redistribution. They were talking about "equal justice under law". They were talking about not having formal classes with different rights - nobles and serfs.

However, I think the American "melting-pot" idea without high levels of cultural assimilation won't work. Without assimilation you get conflict and you are probably better off with ghettoization. Not sure why this is depressing.....or even surprising.

I went for Jamaican food yesterday. It was great. Nobody killed me.

Too bad...

I realize that is a joke, but it also shows the dark nature of the whole "I’m also an HBD" thing.

There is no positive end-game. It is not a formula for winning, for a more prosperous, or peaceful America.

It is a case for more of worse, because some self-reinforcing b.s. pessimism.

It is far better to eat Jamaican and be happy.

"I believe in X because it makes me happy to imagine that it's true" is not an argument that is going to convince many people on this blog. Try Facebook.

Interesting that you try ownership of this blog. Perhaps another moment for the hosts to consider what they have created.

Especially because national trends run the other way. Interracial marriage climbs steadily. Acceptance of immigrants with different cultures and religions grows. Acceptance of "working illegals" has even grown since last year.

But you little HBDs treat MR as your little cocoon. Sad.

For what it is worth, I think Noah is similar to Alex and Tyler in opinion. He just puts it out there more.


You should write Tyler an email with your concerns, I'm sure he'll care.

'I’m sure he’ll care.'

Well, if those concerns were supported by facts and links, and posted here, odds are good that only a select few would read it.

One of the strange things about the MR dynamic is that Alex and Tyler do speak for a diverse prosperity, in their low key way. But each time they do, there is a strange little contingent who say (almost word for word, every time) "he can't believe that, he is just signalling so that he can keep going to liberal cocktail parties."

That goes beyond confirmation bias. That is "no matter what I hear, I'll keep my bias."


It's called an ability to read between the lines.

Good God, man.

Lastly, the majority of violence in this country is black-on-black violence unrelated to anything but our home-grown and poisonous Afro-American culture.

I live in Kfar Saba, Israel. Two kilometer east there is a large Arab settlement, Qalqilia. Since a 5 meter high wall separates us, we all live in peace and relations are relatively friendly. We even gave them a lion for their zoo.

If you need a five meter high wall, "friendly" is not the word for your relationship...

Most words have several shades, some of which are variations on the extent with respect to a fixed parameter. The onus is on you to figure out the sense in which he is using the word "friendly", else you're just being a troll.

"Most words have several shades" ≠ "words mean whatever you want them to mean."
Basic principle of effective communication: it's the responsibility of the writer/speaker to express themselves in such a way as they are clearly understood. The onus is not on the reader/listener to figure out some non-standard meaning of the words used to divine the intended meaning.

There's no widely accepted use of the word friendly than involves building five meter high walls between the supposed friends. Maybe 'j' thinks he is friends with the arabs on the other side of the wall, and maybe he and his neighbors truly harbor them no ill will, but I suspect the arabs (who I'm guessing weren't consulted in the building of the wall) might have a different view (if a man says he's happily married and he's wife says he's not, guess which one of them is right?)

I suspect what 'j' meant was he and his neighbors don't have any conflict with the arabs in the nearby village. And I don't have any conflict with the people living in Kazakhstan. But if I say the Kazakhs and I are friendly (thanks to the several thousand miles between us which means I don't actually have to interact with them), people would definitely question my use of the term friendly.

And if you think pointing all the above out fits the definition of troll, you too are making up your own meanings.

I'm guessing you live behind walls and a door with a lock. Maybe even a security system. Most wealthy people the world over build walls. For the mass of people who can't afford walled estates, they can economize on mutual defense behind "borders." I'm not sure why people find this so repugnant.

How unexpected and refreshing to see Alex speaking in favor of decentralization. Yes, one would expect greater levels of peace and prosperity in power arrangements that afford minority groups some autonomy, and consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, allow for local control over local issues. Agnes Koos has done noteworthy work in this area: http://agneskkoos.net/peace-and-conflict/

When does Alex ever speak in favor of centralization?

The last time I remember Alex talking sensibly about these issues was 2001: http://www.independent.org/issues/article.asp?id=485
Since then, Marginal Revolution has tilted decidedly in favor of authoritaniasm via federal taxes, supranationalist power cartels, trade agreements, open borders, etc. Here is Alex more recently arguing for more centralized federal spending on this, that and the other thinghttps://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/01/the-innovation-nation-vs-the-warfare-welfare-state/251984/:

This article does not take into account that Switzerland has very high suicide rates. Japan is also low crime and very high suicide.

For more thoughts, this book is a classic


I don’t buy these mechanistic explications on phenomena as complex as human action. Just as in Jared Diamond, geography might explain only the beginning of a phenomenon: I can buy why civilization was born in the places it was, but when it comes to explain the Industrial Revolution, geographic explications are simply too weak.

Switzerland has not been involved in a war since the Swabian war in 1499. It was invaded since then only once, by Napoleon, but when he realized the Swiss where not going to join him in his European ambitions, he simply let them alone. You cannot spend more than 500 years in the most dangerous place in the world, the very center of Europe, because there is some mountains around, just as you cannot explain the success of Spanish conquistadores with the observation that in Europe there were goats and horses.

The Swiss developed a very distinctive and incredibly successful model of checks and balances, that somewhat managed to keep politicians at bay. Even the Framers of the USA were very interested in Switzerland, that many of them called “the sister Republic”. Few people ever heard of the Swiss President or Prime Minister (it is actually a rotating responsibility among a group of 6 person, I understand) and even the capital is somewhat of a mistery for many.

I believe there are a combination of factors, the small size, the multiculturalism, the direct democracy, the multilevel federalism, the Calvinism, the military conscription, maybe others, that worked reinforcing and influencing each other, creating something unique and not necessarily expected. The “emerged result” is a strong identification of citizens with the Republic. Reminding a bit of what Tocqueville wrote about XIX century Americans, an incredible amount of people in Switzerland is involved in some political body, often electoral, maybe just of a hospital board or a small town council. I suspect than the usual problem of Public Choice are much smaller there than in other countries because the political process is so distributed and fragmented that a lot os Swiss, much more than in other countries, really feel enfranchised, not only through the meaningless ritual of a vote once in a while in a gigantic representative democracy, but in day-to-day decisions.

Anyway, the most successful example of country in modern history, in my opinion.

And yet, Switzerland has long had the lowest voter turnout of any modern democracy.

I did not know it. It is only in federal or cantonal elections, or also in the direct democracy decisions and elections at very local level?
Can it be that when the system works pretty well and there is no history of abuse by the politicians, the incentives to vote become weaker? Just an idea, I do not really know.

Switzerland experienced internal religious wars in the 16th century, and another civil war in 1847.

Minor historical note, but Napoleon's invasion of Switzerland was done at the invitation of Swiss revolutionaries overthrowing their oligarchial governments, so there was significant inside help and sympathy for the French invasion. And the French had no desire to actually rule the country; Napoleon's main war aim was to gain the gratitude of the Swiss revolutionaries who let him cart back to France the gold of Bern, which served as ballast for France's Revolution-damaged economy.

They are also have more firearms ownership than anywhere else in Western Europe. Polite society and all that.

True, but not out of misguided self-defense fantasies. Most young men serve in the army who make them take their rifles home. Target shooting is a popular sport -- the club is often the social center of a community. And then there's the hunters. No NRA-style craziness.

I have lived in two cities in New Zealand - one that is hard to get around because of hills, rivers, a harbour, valleys and one that is mostly flat with plenty of motorways. Mostly the same ethnic mix.

In the first city the people were generally more considerate and kind and in the latter people were generally more obnoxious. I put it (mostly) down to the fact that in the former people were more likely to run into the same people all the time because of the geographical constraints which makes them care more about keeping things pleasant. In the latter, people were mixing more freely so that if they annoyed someone then they probably wouldn't see them again so what did it matter.

That's not the whole story but I think it explained a good chunk.

Diversity becomes a non vital factor when there is an economic surplus. As per one of the induction i had attended, one in five families in Switzerland hold a wealth management (+$1M) account with the big banks (Credit Suisse/UBS). I am sure this may be a vital factor for peace and responsible autonomy.

Violence is caused by socialism.

Which explains all the violence in Scandinavia.... oh, well, maybe not.

If you want to call Scandinavia socialist, we may conclude that socialism does indeed cause intolerable levels of violence.

Huh? Are you positing that today's social democracy somehow caused Viking raids over a millennia ago?

So basically a wall.

Only 10 countries in the world have been listed as conflict-free, Switzerland is one of them and I think it is one of the most reason why Switzerland is a peaceful country.
Switzerland is the country of the diplomatic archetypal neutrality. No other state embodies the neutrality as much as this country which refuses to get involved in the European or world conflicts for a long time. Even during World War I and World War II, Switzerland didn't want to get involved.
This country doesn't want to get involved in any conflict and that is why Switzerland is very peaceful.
Also, Switzerland has one of the most higher in Europe "per capita incomes". Personally, I am living just next to the Switzerland border, and everyone tries to work in Switzerland to gain more money because Switzerland is known especially for that. The best thing to do for the French people who live next to this border, is to live in France and to work in Switzerland. Living in France is better because living in Switzerland is expensive, and working in Switzerland is better because you can earn more money.
On the other hand, we can talk about education, the quality of the education is very good at an international comparison. These factors allow Switzerland to be one of the most attractive countries in the world.
I agree with "In Switzerland, mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas." because Switzerland is a very interesting country because of the linguistic areas. You have 4 types of languages, French, Italian, German and Romansh.

All of these characteristics form Switzerland a very peaceful and attractive country. In my opinion, it is one of the most important and interesting countries in the world.

I don't recall Belgium wanting to be involved in WWII either. I'm thinking that there might be more to the story.

You are now talking about not being attacked, instead of being the attacker, NPW.

About that, the main reason is that the Swiss are never been military weak, as a lot of people assume. Hitler did not invade Switzerland because it would have been a nightmare. An infantry war (not exactly tank country), defended by extremely well trained militias fighting in an environment that they know perfectly, because they live and train there, even today. Militias are almost useless in attack, but they are great in defense. Besides, in the case of Hitler, it would have been difficult to say that the Swiss were not aryan or almost aryan, so a Eastern Front-like annihilation war was not an option. If he really, badly wanted, he could most certainly do it, but why? Belgium is the natural road to France, Switzerland is the natural road to more mountains.

Switzerland is super boring

Papua New Guinea is diverse, with lots of geographical boundaries in the highlands. But it's definitely not as peaceful as Switzerland. Are we sure this is what's going on?

The level of ethnic warfare in Papua New Guinea varies tremendously from one place to another. Rather than generalizing from New Guinea, it would be more reliable to generalize from particular conflicts at particular locations within Papua New Guinea.

Hm, I wonder how that kind of reasoning works in Caucasus mountains.

The guy who wrote this article don't know very well Switzerland and Jura history. It's a little more complex.

As of 2012, resident foreigners made up 23.3% of the population, one of the largest proportions in the developed world.

"You seem to have missed this – ‘Switzerland has rejected imposing quotas on EU workers in a bid to preserve its close economic ties with the bloc, opting instead to try to curb immigration by giving residents priority in new job vacancies"
What a joke. In Le Locle a friend works in a factory with 47 french people and 4 swiss. I don't see where is the residents priority.

Note that Switzerland has among the highest naturalization hurdles in the world, making sure that foreigners stay foreigners that in other countries would long be citizens.

The priority for residents has only just been agreed upon. It will take a while for any effect to become visible.

As one of the authors of the work being discussed I would like to offer a few clarifications.

1) Alex Tabarrok’s comment notes "The answer offered in this paper Good Fences created by geography, … I would focus more on political decentralization ...[which] can be transplanted.” The paper, Good Fences, does point to political borders as a method by which conflict can be averted. In Switzerland the geography (mountains and lakes) separate the languages, but political boundaries separate the religions. Political boundaries were also successful in other places, including parts of the former Yugoslavia. So we do expect that this is a solution that is transferrable to other places as discussed in the Abstract and Introduction. Perhaps the concern is about the title, and for this “fences” should be interpreted as demarcation lines rather than physical boundaries.

2) The paper does not point to segregation as a solution to conflict. Where there are either well-mixed (integrated) populations or large ethnic geographic areas, the paper finds that peaceful coexistence will occur by itself. It is only where there are geographic patches of a particular size — 20-60 km in diameter — that local autonomy is necessary. This results from the friction between groups of the particular size where there is no clear boundary that provides for the natural autonomy that a large area would enjoy.

3) Thus, special treatment is necessary where people choose to self-segregate AND the size of the area they occupy is of a particular size.

4) The concepts of the rights of man that are being discussed in this forum apply to individuals. The paper and the concepts of complex systems suggest we think not just about individuals but also about groups. The concept of self-governance of local groups makes sense not as segregation but as autonomy, sometimes called “self-determination.” Recognizing the benefit of local governance at the municipal level is an important opportunity for correction of the interference between group values, especially in a context where friction would otherwise lead to violence.

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