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Diversity and Multilingualism in Luxembourg

With almost 50% of its population, Luxembourg is the EU Member State with the highest share of non-national citizens. This mix of languages and cultures from all these communities is rewarding for life in Luxembourg and gives it a cosmopolitan characteristic.
© Frank Weber & binsfeld, all rights reserved

A small but open society

Today, Luxembourg has a population of 626,000 people. Albeit small, it boasts an incredible diversity. In fact, almost 47% of the population doesn’t have Luxembourgish nationality which makes Luxembourg the EU Member State with the highest share of non-national citizens (in relative terms).

And this does not take into account the 185,000 cross-border employees who work in Luxembourg, commuting everyday from France, Germany and Belgium to work and contribute to the country’s economy.

Nationalities in Luxembourg

Take a stroll in any street of a Luxembourgish town or city and you will hear it: Luxembourg hosts large foreign communities, including descendants of 19th and 20th Century migrants, expats, and people who decided to stay when they visited Luxembourg. 170 nationalities have been recorded across the country.

Here is a list of Luxembourg’s 5 largest foreign communities, as a percentage of the total population:

Portuguese15.6%
French7.6%
Italian3.7%
Belgian3.3%
German2.1%
source: https://luxembourg.public.lu/en/society-and-culture/population/demographics.html

In terms of the proportion of foreigners in the population, the city of Luxembourg has the highest number of foreigners with 70.8%.

Multilingualism in Luxembourg’s DNA

Growing up with a host of languages is normal for every child living in Luxembourg. Students learn German, French and English at school as mandatory languages and have the choice of learning other languages as well. Moreover, children encounter many other languages as part of their daily lives, through friends with different backgrounds and taking part in society in general.

Luxembourgish, French, German, English and Portuguese are among the most popular languages, but Italian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish, Finnish, Romanian and many other languages enrich the country’s society every day.

This showcases Luxembourg as a country whose society is open to many different cultures and nationalities and incorporates this multiculturalism like few other societies do.

83% of residents speak three or more languages

(Eurobarometer, “European and their languages” 2012)

Multilingualism is also a prominent feature of Luxembourg’ s economy, and has enabled the country to grow over the decades, from an agricultural society in the 1800s, to an internationally renowned financial and research and development hub in the 21st century.

Companies from all over the world have established their global or European headquarters in Luxembourg, enriching Luxembourg’s already multicultural society with Indian, English, American and many other expat communities.

This multilingual environment might be a challenge at first, but many employers encourage employees to learn new languages, an investment which presents an opportunity in the long term.

Sources:

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Luxembourg world’s 8th happiest country

Luxembourg ranks number 8 out of 149 countries in the World Happiness Report 2021. The happiness score includes measures such as GDP, social support, corruption levels and personal freedom.
© SIP / John Zeimet, all rights reserved

A focus on COVID-19 effects

The World Happiness Report 2021 focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared with two main objectives: to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, the report aims to explain why some countries have done so much better than others.

The World Happiness Report is an annual UN-sponsored report now in its ninth year, carried out by the Gallup Institute.

Luxembourg’s performance

© World Happiness Report / Tableau

Luxembourg has been ranked 8th up from 10th in 2020. The rise is mainly thanks to the good economic performance of the country in this period of crisis.

To establish the ranking, the authors conduct interviews with residents of the 149 countries to gauge their level of happiness. These data are then crossed with national GDP, social support, personal freedom and levels of corruption to give each nation a happiness score.

Greater Region performances:
– Germany: 13th place
– Belgium: 20th place
– France: 21st place

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Luxembourg ranked 2nd greenest country in the world

Researchers from the US universities Yale and Columbia have ranked the Grand Duchy the second greenest country in world in terms of environmental performance.
Forest and sandstone in the wolf’s gorge canyons of Muellerthal in Luxembourg ©stockphotosecrets

Benchmarking environmental policies and regulations

The 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a joint research project by Yale and Columbia on behalf of the World Economic Forum. It provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. Using 32 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, the EPI ranks 180 countries on environmental health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets.
Although not directly focused on COVID-19, the project studies heavily underlying health issues of this pandemic such as unhealthy food consumption, lack of physical activity, air pollution and stress.

Researchers analysed air and water quality, CO2 emissions, waste processing, heavy metals, and other factors of public health.

Luxembourg’s performance

Luxembourg’s score of 82.3 out of 100 put it behind first place Denmark which scored 82.5. The second place finish is also evidenced by the Grand Duchy’s 11.6 points increase in the last 10 years.

The country’s performance stood out in several of the indicators, namely: ecosystem vitality (second place), heavy metal pollution (seventh place) and water resources (ninth place).
Luxembourg, however, has work to do on several other environmental issues such as needing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per capita (164th place) and reducing tree cover loss (ninetieth place).

Greater Region performances:
– France: 5th place with a score of 80.0
– Germany: 10th place with a score of 77.2
– Belgium: 15th place with a score of 73.3

Source: Visual Capitalist
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Luxembourg Celebrates 1 Year of Free Public Transport

Since March 1st 2020, public transport in Luxembourg is free throughout the country and for all modes of transport – be it trams, trains or buses. The measure applies to all users, whether they are residents, cross-border commuters or tourists.

News of Luxembourg becoming the first country in the world to offer free public transport made international headlines.

Luxembourg makes all public transport free‘ – CNN
‘Luxembourg is first country to make all public transport free’
The Guardian
Luxembourg is first country in world to make public transport freeEuronews
‘ Luxembourg to Become the First Country to Offer Free Mass Transit for All’New York Times
© VDL

Tackling climate change

Transportation is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions so finding ways to reduce car use essential for fighting climate change. The implementation of free public transportation is intended to reduce car use, which is a major driver of climate change, and also address income inequality. This aligns with the United Nations’s Global Goals, which include addressing climate action and reducing inequality.

The Luxembourg government’s goal is clear: with free public transport and newly increased capacity with the tram network, it hopes to accommodate more commuters. In 2017, six out of ten people commuted to work in private vehicles. Free public transport is a key in the government’s aim is to reduce this number by nearly half.

Impact: One year later

Due to the unprecedented COVID19 pandemic it is difficult to gauge the adoption of commuters, however recent figures released show a positive trend.
In February 2020, an average of 31,000 passengers used the tram every day. Subsequently, at the start of the confinement in March 2020, this number dropped to 1,400 passengers per day, then gradually rose to an average of 38,000 passengers per day during the week. A peak of 42,000 was reached in February 2021, although the situation has not yet returned to normal due to the use of telecommuting in various sectors.

Research on the impact of free public transport is currently under way and will be shared on Research Luxembourg when available.

More information on free transport: https://mobilitegratuite.lu/en/faq/

More information on research made in Luxembourg in matter of Sustainable & Responsible Development

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Luxembourg: THE place to hike

With 5,000 km of signposted trails, Luxembourg is an attractive destination for hiking fans. In 2020, the hiking paths proved to be exceptionally popular.

Despite the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives, a rather positive upside is that many people decided more than ever before to take advantage of nature and outdoors activities. The enthusiasm for hiking peaked at an all-time high in 2020.

Growing number of hikers

Recent statistics show that the number of hikers doubled in 2020, compared to the year before, on some of Luxembourg’s signposted hiking paths. One of the country’s most iconic walks, the Mullerthal Trail that leads through magnificent scenery with spectacular rock formations, was visited by over 160,000 hikers is 2020, which is almost 15,000 more than in 2019. The number of hikers on Escapardenne, a 158-km trail crossing the Belgian and Luxembourg Ardennes, increased by around 25%.

Increasing hiking information search

The strong interest in hiking in Luxembourg can also be seen in terms search queries on the internet. The national Geoportail reports that the number of page views in its section devoted to hiking paths doubled in 2020. The traffic also increased considerably on pages for paths labelled as “Quality Trails”, for example the Mullerthal Trail (+21%), Escapardenne (+161%) or the Naturwanderpark DeLux (+130%).

The website Visit Luxembourg reports a similar trend, with an increase of 75.5% in page views on its pages on hiking in 2020.

Following this growing interest in hiking in Luxembourg, and in order to meet the requirements of hikers, uniform standards regarding signage and markings will be put in place in the future.

With foreigners accounting for almost 50% of the population, Luxembourg is a truly cosmopolitan country with a long tradition of welcoming residents from around the world. It is a great place to live and raise a family, as well as to build an international career.

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Financial Times special report about Data and Innovation in Luxembourg

The famous newspaper published a full dossier presenting Luxembourg’s ambitions to diversify away from finance and become an advanced digital economy, stimulating private-sector innovation with government-led research.

“One of Europe’s smallest states has big ambitions to diversify away from finance and become an advanced digital economy, stimulating private-sector innovation with government-led research in technologies from space mining to supercomputers and cybersecurity. Can it succeed?” is wondering the Financial Times in a series of 6 articles showing how Luxembourg has made research and innovation a priority!

This investment is here well illustrated in the digital and IT sectors, space, and renewable energies.

Read the whole report here

Access to the different articles:

The report has been commissioned by the FNR and Luxinnovation

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Luxembourg among the world’s least corrupt countries

The Corruption Perception Index is published by NGO Transparency International. The recently published 2020 edition ranks Luxembourg as the 9th least corrupt country in the world.

The Corruption Perception Index ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption. The analysis is based on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives. It uses a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Least corrupt countries

With a score of 88, Denmark and New Zealand share first place. Luxembourg scores 80 and is in 9th place, a ranking that it shares with its neighbour Germany. Belgium ranks 15th and France 23rd.

Positive effects – and challenges

The study notes that a low level of corruption has a generally positive impact on society. “Countries that perform well on the index invest more in health care, are better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law,” it states.

However, the fight against corruption remains a great challenge. Over two-thirds of the countries covered score below 50, and close to half have been stagnant on the index for almost a decade. This indicates difficulties of tackling the root causes of corruption. This is particularly serious in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic: the report claims that “corruption poses a critical threat to citizens’ lives and livelihoods, especially when combined with a public health emergency”.

In order to reduce corruption and better respond to future crises, Transparency International recommends strengthening oversight institutions, ensuring open and transparent contracting, defending democracy and publishing relevant data.

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Luxembourg 5th best country to raise a family

The country performs particularly well in the safety, cost and time categories. In the health category, Luxembourg is again in 2nd place worldwide.

The Raising A Family Index published by website Asher & Lyric compares data on 35 OECD countries to see which were the best for raising a family in 2020. Luxembourg is in 5th place, outperformed only by Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Safe, reasonable costs, time available

The index is based on six categories:

  • Safety: homicide rate, law and order index, number of school shootings, human rights, etc.
  • Happiness: woman freedom index, world happiness index, suicide rates, etc.
  • Cost: childcare, private education and health spending, etc.
  • Health: maternal and under-five child mortality, air pollution exposure, life expectancy, etc.
  • Education: student enrolment rates, reading, mathematics and science performance
  • Time: hours worked, paid maternity, paternity and sick leave, paid vacation time

Luxembourg is awarded an A+ rating in the safety, cost and time categories. It ranks 1st worldwide in the time category, notably due to its generous paternity leave and number of paid vacation days. Its affordable childcare, healthcare and education and strong purchasing power places it 2nd in terms of cost.

Happiness and health

Luxembourg also gets A ratings for happiness and health. In the health category, it is again in 2nd place worldwide.

The only category where Luxembourg performs less well is education, where the country only receives a D ranking. The reason is relatively low student enrolment rates and less good performance in the International Student Performance.

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Luxembourg among the world’s most innovative economies

Luxembourg the ranks 18th most innovative economy in the world in the 2020 edition of the Global Innovation Index. The country stands out for its ICT access, venture capital deals, knowledge-intensive employment and online creativity.

Luxembourg ranks 18th in the Global Innovation Index 2020, thus maintaining its position of last year. Co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the index at providing insightful data on innovation and assisting economies in evaluating their innovation performance and making informed innovation policy considerations. The 2020 edition ranks Switzerland, Sweden and the US as the most innovative economies in the world. In total, it covers 131 economies.

The index is based on 7 main pillars, made up of 80 indicators. Luxembourg stands out for its performance in the pillar “Creative Outputs”, where it ranks 3rd, and “Business sophistication”, where it ranks 9th.

Top indicators

When looking at the individual 80 indicators, Luxembourg is one of the economies that consistently holds the top global spots. It is #1 in following categories:

  • Tertiary inbound mobility
  • ICT access
  • Venture capital deals
  • Knowledge-intensive employment
  • Patent families 2+ offices
  • Intellectual property payments
  • Cultural and creative services exports
  • National feature films
  • Online creativity

Luxembourg also ranks high in environmental performance (2nd) and political and operational stability (3rd).

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Luxembourg 3rd in World Talent Ranking

Luxembourg comes out 3rd in the 2020 World Talent Ranking, which is an improvement with two places compared to the previous year. The country notably stands out for its ability to attract and retain talent and the availability of foreign highly-skilled personnel.

Published by the Swiss institute IMD, the World Talent Ranking illustrates the capacity of an economy to develop as well as attract talent to strengthen its competitiveness. According to the study, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg are the three most competitive economies in the world with respect to talent.

The study looks at three factors in order to quantify the quality of an economy’s talent pool:

  • Investment and Development: the ability to foster domestic talent
  • Appeal: the ability to retain homegrown talent and to draw from the international talent pool
  • Readiness: the quantity of the skills and competences available in the country

Solid talent investments, high appeal

Luxembourg’s overall move from 5th place in 2019 to 3rd this year is partly a result of the country’s performance in investment and development, where it moves up from 5th to 3rd place. It is ranked as the best economy in the world in terms of total public expenditure on education (per student) and in the quality of education in primary school (as measured by pupil-teacher ratio).

In the appeal category, Luxembourg ranks 5th. The country is 2nd best in the world in terms of its ability attract and retain talent, 4th in the availability of foreign highly-skilled staff and 3rd in the remuneration of services professions.

Luxembourg is in 19th place in the readiness category. This is due to executive opinions about, for example, the availability of competent senior managers and the effectiveness of the primary and secondary education. However, the country ranks 1st in the world for labour force growth, 4th for language skills and 6th for international experience.

Renowned for its highly skilled workforce, Luxembourg attracts the best talent from countries around the world. The outstanding language skills of the multicultural population makes it easy to find staff that can communicate with international clients in their own language. More information on Luxinnovation’s website