Material deprivation is a more absolute measure of social exclusion than for example the risk of poverty which is calculated on the basis of a relative threshold. Material deprivation is the fact of not possessing durable consumer goods or the absence of the conditions of a minimal existence due to lack of financial resources.
In 2016, the most frequent deprivations were related to the lack of financial resources to be able to face an unexpected expense of CHF 2500 (21.5% of the population) and to housing conditions (17.8% of the population live in a noisy neighbourhood, 11.1% in a neighbourhood with problems of crime, violence or vandalism, and 8.8% in a neighbourhood with problems of pollution).
Material deprivation is defined as the absence, for financial reasons, of at least three out of nine factors. According to this definition, 5.3% of the population living in Switzerland was in a situation of material deprivation in 2016. Persons at risk of poverty have a considerably higher rate of material deprivation (15.4%) than those who are not at risk of poverty (3.6%). Persons aged 65 or older, however, are a case apart: although they are especially at risk of poverty, their rate of material deprivation (1.8%) is considerably lower than that of the population as a whole.
For European comparisons, the reference year for data is 2016.
In European comparison, the rate of material deprivation is much lower in Switzerland (5.3%) than the European average (EU-28: 15.7%). It is also lower in Switzerland than in Italy (20.6%), France (11.0%), Germany (9.7%), and Austria (8.4%).
Links to the results and publications at European level are listed further below under "Further information" in the paragraph "Links".
Material deprivation of employed persons
In 2016, 3.6% of all employed persons in Switzerland were affected by material deprivation. This corresponds to 135,000 persons.
The following groups were particularly affected by material deprivation despite being employed:
- persons who worked for only part of the year
- persons with a temporary contract
- persons with irregular working hours
No clear trend can be observed in the evolution of the material deprivation rate over time.
Special attention is given to the question of material deprivation of employed persons. In fact, paid work is considered a way to reduce the risk of being affected by poverty. Employed persons who are considered to be materially deprived are people aged 18 or over who had a full-time or part-time job for more than half of the calendar year before the interview and who live in a household reporting deprivation in at least three out of nine areas of life.
In order to make international comparisons about the material deprivation of employed persons, the severe material deprivation rate that is published by Eurostat is used (deprivation in at least four out of nine areas of life). Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of all of the countries with 1.0%, putting it considerably below the European average (4.5%). The rates of the neighbouring countries Italy, France, Germany and Austria are also higher than Switzerland's rate.
Statistical sources and concepts