Material deprivation

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.

Principal results

In 2019, the most frequent deprivations were related to the lack of financial resources to be able to face an unexpected expense of CHF 2500 (20.7% of the population) and to housing conditions (18.3% of the population live in a noisy neighbourhood, 7.2% in a neighbourhood with problems of crime, violence or vandalism, and 8.7% 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, 4.9% of the population living in Switzerland was in a situation of material deprivation in 2019. Persons at risk of poverty have a considerably higher rate of material deprivation (17.3%) than those who are not at risk of poverty (2.5%). Persons aged 65 or older, however, are a case apart: although they are especially at risk of poverty, their rate of material deprivation (2.4%) is considerably lower than that of the population as a whole.

European comparisons

For European comparisons, the reference year for data is 2019.

In European comparison, the rate of material deprivation is much lower in Switzerland (4.9%) than the European average (EU-28: 12.0%). It is also lower in Switzerland than in Italy (14.1%), France (11.1%), Germany (6.8%), and Austria (5.9%).

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 2019, 3.4% of all employed persons in Switzerland were affected by material deprivation. This corresponds to 124,000 persons.

The following groups were particularly affected by material deprivation despite being employed:

  • persons who worked part-time
  • persons with a temporary contract

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.

More information on poverty and the risk of poverty of employed persons can be found here:
Poverty of employed persons 
Risk of poverty of employed persons

European comparisons

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). In Switzerland, at 1.2% this rate is clearly below the European Union average of 3.2%. The severe material deprivation rates of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries - Italy, France, Germany and Austria - are as high as or higher than in Switzerland.

Further information




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Statistical sources and concepts


Federal Statistical Office Section Income, Consumption and Living Conditions
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel
+41 58 463 68 04



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