In 2021 (income 2020), 8.7% of the Swiss population i.e. approx. 745 000 people were affected by income poverty.

The groups most affected were persons living alone or in single-parent households with minor children, persons with no post-compulsory education, foreign nationals from Eastern Europe or non-European countries and those living in households where no-one works.

Compared to the previous year (8.5%), the poverty rate has not changed significantly from a statistical point of view. Between 2007 and 2013, the poverty rate fell from 9.3% to 5.9%. However, since 2014 (6.7%) it has risen again. In the same period, the disposable income of the lowest income group (lowest 10% of the income distribution) has decreased.

As substantial changes have been made to the SILC methodology, the values from 2014 can no longer be directly compared with those of previous years.

Poverty line

The poverty line is derived from the guidelines of the Conference for Social Welfare (SKOS). In 2021, it was on average CHF 2289 per month for a single person and CHF 3989 for two adults with two children.

Of this amount, the expenses for daily needs (food, hygiene, mobility, etc.) as well as housing costs must be paid, but not the premiums for compulsory health insurance. These are deducted in advance from the household income, as are social security contributions, taxes and possible alimony.

Poverty of employed persons

In 2021, 4.2% of all employed persons in Switzerland were affected by poverty. This corresponds to 157 000 persons.

The income of employed persons is largely determined by the form of work and work conditions. The following groups were particularly affected by poverty despite being employed:

  • persons who worked for only part of the year
  • self-employed persons
  • persons with a temporary contract
  • persons employed in small businesses

No clear trend can be observed in the evolution of the poverty rate of employed persons over time.

Further information


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Statistical sources and concepts


Federal Statistical Office Section Income, Consumption and Living Conditions
CH-2010 Neuchâtel
+41 58 463 64 21



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