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Swiss Statistics

Surveys, Sources – Federal Population Census, 1850-2000History of the Census

Federal Councillor Stefano Franscini (1796-1857) (Enlargement in new window)Enlargement in new window
Federal Councillor Stefano Franscini (1796-1857)
It is thanks to Federal Councillor Stefano Franscini (1796-1857) that a Census has been held in Switzerland every 10 years since 1850. In fact, Franscini actually conducted the first Census himself. When the first raw data had been collected, Parliament and Federal Council reneged on payment. Because he no longer had the money to pay for it, Franscini evaluated the data himself, with his private secretary helping him with the arithmetic. It is also thanks to Federal Councillor Franscini's farsightedness that Switzerland now has a collective memory documenting the spatial, social and economic development of the Swiss Confederation over the last 150 years. Today, the Census is an indispensable planning and decision-making instrument for politics, industry and society.

It is thanks to Federal Councillor Stefano Franscini (1796-1857) that a Census has been held in Switzerland every 10 years since 1850. In fact, Franscini actually conducted the first Census himself. When the first raw data had been collected, Parliament and Federal Council reneged on payment. Because he no longer had the money to pay for it, Franscini evaluated the data himself, with his private secretary helping him with the arithmetic. It is also thanks to Federal Councillor Franscini's farsightedness that Switzerland now has a collective memory documenting the spatial, social and economic development of the Swiss Confederation over the last 150 years. Today, the Census is an indispensable planning and decision-making instrument for politics, industry and society.

The legal grounds for census taking at regular intervals dates back to 1860 with the Swiss Federal Law on the National Census (SR 431.112). The Swiss Federal Parliament amended this law for the first time in 1988. This law was completely overhauled ten years later in 1998.
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