Poverty rate

This indicator provides information on the percentage of people whose income falls below the poverty line. It thus refers to the inability to acquire the goods and services necessary to an integrated social life.

From an integration perspective, the aim is to reduce the poverty rate.


Poverty means a lack of resources (material, cultural and social) that excludes people from the minimum acceptable way of life in the country in which they live. Generally, poverty is defined in monetary terms.

The poverty rate refers to an “absolute” threshold. People who do not have the financial means to acquire the goods and services necessary to an integrated social life are considered poor. The poverty line used was calculated according to recommendations from the Swiss Conference for Social Welfare (SKOS). A poverty rate defined in this way serves as a limit that is appropriate for social policies, because the financial support allocated to persons or households directly translates into a measurable reduction of poverty.

The poverty line is calculated based on the standards of the SKOS, which is commonly used to gauge entitlement to social assistance in Switzerland. It consists of a lump sum for maintenance, individual accommodation costs as well as CHF 100 per month and per person from the age of 16 for other costs.

Household disposable income is defined as gross income minus deduction of compulsory expenditure i.e.: social insurance contributions (contributions to old-age and disability insurance, occupational pension funds etc.), taxes, basic health insurance premiums and regular transfers to other households (e.g. child maintenance).


The poverty rate corresponds to the percentage of people who are poor in the total population. A person is considered poor if they live in a household whose disposable income falls below the poverty line.

For households comprised of several adults with a different migration status, the same value is entered for persons with a migration background and for those without.

Following changes to the survey framework and improvements in the weighting model, results from 2014 onwards can no longer be directly compared with those from previous years (series break). See the document below for further details.


Federal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel



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