While it is not known how much personal wealth Vatican citizens have, the state is free of poverty. Although it is the smallest of all countries in terms of population, its estimated GDP per capita of $21,198 makes Vatican City the 18th wealthiest nation in the world per capita. Health and pension provisions are good, and average incomes and living standards of lay workers are generally comparable to—and in some cases, better than—those enjoyed by employees in Rome. No individual, whether or not they are a citizen of the Vatican, may own land within the borders of the state because it is the private domain of the Holy See.
Several hundred lay persons are engaged in secretarial, domestic, trade, and service jobs in the Vatican. The working week is reasonable, although high officials of the Secretariat of State keep longer hours then many senior business executives in other countries. Workers in the Vatican benefit from the numerous religious holidays, and Italians who work in the Holy See are exempt from military service. Swiss Guards are paid a relatively low salary, but are usually young men with private incomes. Civil Guards have higher salaries plus family allowances.
The most highly paid Vatican officials are the cardinals of the Curia. Immediately after appointment to the Curia, a cardinal has two-thirds of his first month's plate (as his salary is known, from the days when he was paid with gold and silver coins presented on a silver plate) deducted and kept aside for his funeral expenses.