MONET 2030: Language use: multilingualism

SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Significance of the indicator
The indicator shows the proportion of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over who regularly uses at least two languages at home, at work and in places of education. Languages that are not national languages (e.g. English, Portuguese and Albanian) are also taken into consideration.

Multilingualism is a typical feature of Switzerland. The national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh – are anchored in the federal Constitution. The promotion of multilingualism, the encouragement of understanding and dialogue between the linguistic communities are fundamental principles of language policy in Switzerland. Language skills are important to experience Switzerland’s cultural diversity and to strengthen the country’s internal cohesion. A knowledge of different languages – not only the national languages but also English – is an important element in the Swiss economy’s human capital.  An increase in the population's multilingualism is, therefore, positive for sustainable development.

Help for interpretation
The difference in the number of people who regularly speak more than one language and those who usually speak more than one national language illustrates the importance of immigration in multilingual practices in Switzerland. 

International comparability
This indicator cannot be compared at international level.



This indicator shows the proportion of the permanent resident population aged 15 or over that regularly uses at least two languages. Dialects are grouped together with the standard language (e.g. Swiss German is counted together with German). The indicator takes all languages spoken in Switzerland into account and not just the national languages.

The indicator compiles the answers given for each of the three language concepts used in the structural survey (several answers possible for each question) i.e.:

◾Main language: this is the language in which the person thinks and which they know best.

◾Language spoken at home: this is the language usually spoken at home / with family and friends.

◾Language spoken at work / at one’s place of education: this is the language spoken during breaks at work / at one's place of education (excluding languages studied by pupils and students).

Data come from the structural survey, conducted by the Federal Statistical Office since 2010 as part of the annual population census. It is conducted every year in a sample of people aged 15 or over from the permanent resident population living in private households. A confidence interval of 95% is calculated for these data.


5a Intercultural and interpersonal understanding
In recognition of the fact that the proper functioning of society and its ability to survive are largely based on the solidarity of its members, exchange and understanding between individuals, groups and people of different ages should be promoted.

10a Promotion of economic efficiency
The economic efficiency of a society must be at least maintained over time. The efficient use of natural resources and a future-oriented economic structure should be promoted.


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