Social assistance

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Teaser 13.05

Social assistance in Switzerland

Social assistance is a last-resort benefit. It includes measures to help recipients to be financially independent and socially integrated, to prevent them from falling into poverty.
The recipients statistics enable the social assistance rate to be calculated and describe the socio-demographic structure of recipients, their financial situation and the amount of benefits received.

Teaser 13

Poverty indicator NFE

The poverty indicator is based on the social assistance statistics. It is a partial indicator for the compensation of socio-demographic burdens as part of the system of fiscal equalisation between the Confederation and the cantons (NFE).

At a glance

While the social assistance rate, i.e. the rate of economic social assistance in the narrow sense has hardly changed in recent years, the number of social assistance beneficiaries has risen. The reason for this apparently contradictory trend is that over the same period the resident population has also increased.

The main indicators of social assistance statistics




Social assistance rate (financial social assistance)



Share of short-term beneficiaries of financial social assistance (up to one year, closed case)



Average duration of social assistance benefits (median, current case)

23 months


Net expenditure on social assistance in a broader sense

CHF 8 184m  


Net expenditure on financial social assistance

CHF 2 722m 


Annual net expenditure on financial social assistance per beneficiary

CHF 9 961 


Social assistance rate in a broader sense



Sources: Statistics on social assistance recipients, finance statistics of social assistance in a broader sense, inventory of social assistance in a broader sense

Further information

Press releases

Statistical sources and concepts

On this topic

Recipients of social benefits

Key indicators on recipients of financial social assistance broadly defined

Expenditure for social assistance

Financial statistics provide information on net expenditure on social assistance and other means-tested social benefits in Switzerland.

Inventory of social assistance

The inventory offers a systematic compilation of the cantonal social benefits which form part of social assistance in a broader sense.

Poverty indicator NFE

The ARMIN poverty indicator is a partial indicator of the socio-demographic cost compensation of the new fiscal equalisation (NFE)


Federal Statistical Office Sections Social Analyses and Social Welfare
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuch√Ętel



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