In Switzerland, expenditure on social benefits is generally on the increase. The social protection system is undergoing changes in line with economic and demographic developments as well as different ways of living. From one year to the next, the variation in social expenditure can also be influenced by fluctuations in the economic situation or in unemployment levels.

Expenditure for social benefits in Switzerland between 1995 and 2022
  1995 2005 2015 2020p 2021p 2022e

CHF billion (at current prices)







CHF billion (at constant prices)







In CHF per capita (at constant prices)

13 700

17 800

21 300

24 600

24 500

23 800

p provisional
e estimated
Source: Total social security accounts (TSSA), version 02.07.2023.

In Switzerland

Decline in social expenditure in 2022

In 2022, expenditure on social benefits reached CHF 207.8 billion, a figure down CHF 4.2 billion (-2.0%) on 2021. In 2020, social spending had reached an all-time high, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (CHF 212.0 billion). The decline of CHF 4.2 billion on social expenditure between 2021 and 2022 was the result of contrasting trends.

In 2022, social expenditure on unemployment (CHF -7.4 billion) continued on a decline that had begun in 2021, and almost returned to its pre-pandemic level. The main reason for this decline was a change in expenditure on compensatory payments from the unemployment insurance for short-time working and for COVID-19 compensation for loss of earnings.

In the health sector, expenditure on social benefits rose by CHF 2.1 billion, with the rise in compulsory health insurance benefits and the increase in absences from work due to illness. At the same time, benefits linked to screening and vaccination measures returned to almost pre-pandemic levels.

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the admission of people with S protection status, expenditure on benefits in the field of social exclusion rose by CHF 0.4 billion (+10.5%) compared with 2021.

Benefits by main areas

In 2022, 42.0% of social benefits were paid in the area of old age. The old-age and survivors' insurance (OASI; CHF 43.9 billion) and occupational pension plans (CHF 39.2 billion) together represented the largest share of total old-age benefits (CHF 87.3 billion), in particular in the form of pensions. The OASI and occupation pension plans also cover the majority of benefits paid to survivors, i.e. CHF 8.9 billion of the CHF 9.7 billion spent in this area.

This is followed by expenditure on healthcare (33.0%), mainly paid by health insurers and amounting to CHF 33.4 billion. Next come disability (8.0%), family/children (5.8%) and unemployment benefits (3.2%). The main schemes in these three areas are, in order of expenditure: invalidity insurance (CHF 8.7 billion), family allowances (CHF 6.4 billion) and unemployment insurance (CHF 6.0 billion).

In Europe

Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of social benefits

Between 2021 and 2022, social benefits expressed at constant prices fell in almost all European countries (median -3.5%). The decline was moderate in Switzerland (-2.0%) and France (-1.8%), but more marked in other neighbouring countries, particularly Austria (-4.9%), Italy (-3.7%) and Germany (-3.6%). Despite these downward trends, social expenditure in Europe in 2022 remained 5.5% (median value) above the pre-pandemic level. In Switzerland, the gap was 6.7%.

Two main effects contributed to the reduction in social benefits in 2022: first, the economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis continued in 2022, with a consequent reduction in social expenditure on unemployment. Second, the war in Ukraine and the tense situation on the energy and food markets led to an overall price increase, reducing the real value of social benefits paid to households. inflation was particularly high in the countries of Eastern Europe, with double digit values.

Migration flows from Ukraine and other parts of the world are reflected in changes in the social expenditure categories housing and social exclusion. The latter records assistance to the most disadvantaged people, including refugees. Social expenditure on housing and social exclusion surged in comparison with 2021, particularly in many countries in Eastern and Southern Europe, such as Latvia (+80.5%), Portugal (+59.9%) and Czechia (+46.5%). Switzerland also saw a record increase in this expenditure (+4.3% for housing and +10.5% for social exclusion). That being said, social expenditure in these categories remained negligible in relation to total expenditure on social benefits (in Switzerland 3.5% and in Europe 3.0% - median value).

The divide between east and west

In Europe, the governments and social insurances of each country protect the population with various social benefits. Countries' expenditure on these benefits vary according to their economic situation, population health and demographic structure, among others. The countries with the highest social expenditure are found mainly in Northern and Western Europe. In East European countries, expenditure is lower. When the countries' social benefits are expressed as a percentage of GDP, this difference persists, but to a lesser extent.

In 2022, social benefits in Europe were CHF 14 000 in Purchasing Power Standards (CHF PPP) per capita (median value). In European comparison, Switzerland's social expenditure was high (CHF PPP 23 800 per capita), compared with that of other economically prosperous countries such as Austria, Denmark or Germany (CHF PPP 23 600, 23 000 e 22 500 per capita respectively).

Social benefits in Switzerland represented 26.6% of GDP, i.e. 3.4 percentage points more than the European median (23.2% of GDP). As a percentage of GDP, however, social expenditure was higher in Switzerland's neighbouring countries than it was in Switzerland: 32.2% of GDP in France, 29.7% in Austria, 29.6% in Italy and 29.2% in Germany.

Further information



Other statistics on financial flows of social protection

Statistical sources and concepts


Federal Statistical Office Section Social Welfare
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel


+41 58 461 44 44


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