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Swiss Statistics

Surveys, Sources – Federal Population Census, 1850-2000Overview

Brief description Every 10 years, from 1850 to 2000, a census was realized with the help of a questionnaire to which the whole population of Switzerland had to answer. Its results showed the demographic, spatial, social and economic developments of the country. They were used for policy planning and decision-making in many areas: employment, education, family and social policies, environmental protection, transport and settlement policies, business development. The census was also a vital tool used in sampling surveys (weighting and extrapolation).
Institution responsible Federal Statistical Office
Responsible service Demography and Migration
Responsible person / information Information DEM, +41 58 46 36711, info.dem@bfs.admin.ch
Conducted by Federal Statistical Office (FSO), with the help of the cantons, the communes and external companies
Legal bases
  • Swiss Federal Law of 26 June 1998 on the Federal Population Census (CC 431.112)
  • Swiss Federal Ordinance of 13 January 1999 on the Federal Population Census (CC 431.112.1)
Type of survey / statistic Complete enumeration with written questionnaires. Participation mandatory. In 2000, most of the inhabitants received the questionnaires by mail, in some communes they were distributed by enumerators. The replies could be sent via Internet (E-Census) and 4.2% of the population took advantage of this possibility.
Statistical basis and survey units Individuals, households and economically active persons within the resident population (both economic domicile and legal residence taken into account), linked to georeferenced buildings and dwellings, places of work and places of study.
Features registered Key variables:
  • Individuals: date of birth, gender, marital status, citizenship, place of residence, place of birth, position in household, number of children, religion, languages, education, learnt and practised profession, current employment situation, job title, place of work/study, distance travelled to place of work/study, means of transport used, commute time
  • Households: number of individuals living in the household; type of household
  • Accommodation: apartment floor, number of rooms, surface area, kitchen, type of occupant, amount of rent paid
  • Buildings: geocoordinates, type of building, time of construction, renovation, number of floors, heating, hot water, building floor, type of owner
  • Derived variables: type of commune, urban areas, language region, socioprofessional categories, household reference person
Degree of regionalisation To the level of buildings
Reference period 1850 to 2000, usually in December (5 December for the year 2000)
Period survey conducted The last time, from December 2000 to July 2001
Periodicity Every ten years. Last census held in 2000.
Available since First statistical reference year: 1850
Statistical quality of data In 2000, 1.3 per thousand of the population did not take part in the Federal Population Census. Missing data for variables date of birth, gender, marital status, place of residence, citizenship, main language, position in household, current employment situation were completed to reach 100 per cent. For other variables, missing data depended on the quality of the replies and the volume of data which could be added by automatic corrections or programs of imputation.
Revision Starting with 2010, the Population Census takes place annually, under a new form. The SFSO uses primarily data from population registers to collect information and combines it with sample surveys. Only part of the population (about 5%) is interviewed, either by written questionnaires or by phone.

Census statistics now include (article 3 of the Swiss Federal Ordinance on the Federal Population Census of 19 December 2008, CC 431.112.1):
a. basic statistics;
b. structural statistics;
c. topic-based statistics;
d. statistics on topics of current interest (statistics Omnibus).

The basic statistics on persons and households are called "Statistic on population and households" (STATPOP) and the structural statistics "Structural survey". Their day of reference is the 31st of December of each year. More information will be found in their respective overviews.
Last Update 19.11.2012
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