Public statistics are based on the Swiss constitution. In the vote held on 18 April 1999 the Swiss electorate approved a total revision of the constitution, which now includes a statistics article (Art. 65) concerning the commissioning and competence of statistics.

Article 65:
«1 The federal authorities shall obtain the necessary statistical data concerning the current status and changes in the population, the economy, society, education, research, spatial development and the environment in Switzerland.
2 They shall be authorized to issue regulations with regard to the harmonization and management of official registers with a view to minimizing the work needed for obtaining such information.»

The legal basis for public statistics in Switzerland is defined in more detail in various laws, principally in the Federal Statistic Act of 9 October 1992.

As the most comprehensive and long-standing statistical survey, the general census is covered by a law of its own dating from June 1998.

Legislation is also needed for the simplified surveys mentioned in the constitutional article that can be carried out thanks to harmonized official registers of population and other factors. The Federal Statistical Act regulates not only the work of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) but, as its name indicates, all statistical activity at federal level.

The Federal Statistical Act provides a legal framework and does not list individual statistics and surveys which are regulated at ordinance level by the Federal Council. The Act sets out the tasks and organization of federal statistics as well as fundamental principles for data procurement, publications and services. In particular, it describes data protection principles.

The salient innovations in the 1992 Act are: the coordination function of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office in its capacity as the Government's central statistical unit, the establishment of a multi-year statistical programme for overall planning of Swiss statistics, and the institution of the Federal Statistics Commission as an advisory body to the Federal Council (with representatives from academia, business, social partners as well as federal, cantonal and municipal units).

Various ordinances provide more detailed instructions for implementing the Federal Statistical Act, for example concerning the organization of federal statistics, the conduct of federal statistical surveys, fees for statistical services provided by Government administrative units, the Company and Business Register as well as the Federal Building and Housing Register.


Federal Statistical Office Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel



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