Switzerland’s population structure has changed considerably over the past few decades. The demographic ageing of Switzerland’s population has an impact on many areas of life. Health topics, employment, retirement and old-age provision are at the heart of the social and political discussion.
The ageing of the population is mainly driven by three factors: low fertility rate, longer life expectancy and migration.
Fertility in Switzerland has been low for several decades whereas the birth rate remains relatively stable. While at the start of the 20th century the fertility rate was still 3.7 children per woman, in Switzerland a woman has today on average 1.5 children. This is leading to a decrease in the number of young people in society. This phenomenon is called “ageing at the bottom” of the age pyramid.
The average life expectancy has doubled since 1878. Increasing life expectancy has led to “ageing at the top” of the age pyramid.
While both of the specified factors continue to lead to an increase in the average age of the population, migration contributes to attenuating the ageing phenomenon. Details:
The old-age provision reports provide an overview of the protection of employed and retired persons by means of the old-age provision system. The system is also known as the «three-pillar system» and is comprised of the old age and survivors' insurance (AHV/AVS), occupational pension plans (BV/PP) and the third (3a) pillar (private pensions).
In 2022, 228 418 people received at least one new benefit from the old-age provision system (excluding double counting).
Nearly 97 400 people received a new OASI pension and around 45 300 a new pension from the PP. Almost 63 300 people received a lump-sum payment from an occupational pension plan as old-age benefit, and around 121 300 people received a lump-sum payment from a restricted private pension plan.
Differences can be seen in the level of benefits, paid per person, from the various pillars: the median new OASI old-age pension in 2022 was CHF 1810 per month. The level of new pensions from occupational pension plans was slightly lower at CHF 1744. The median lump-sum withdrawal from occupational pension plans in 2022 was CHF 114 385; that from the 3a pillar CHF 45 869.
When interpreting pensions and lump-sum withdrawals from the occupational pension plan, it should also be considered that there are distinct differences between the genders in terms of access to and the amount of benefits. Men received around twice as much as women in benefits from the 2nd pillar in 2022. Comprehensive information on this topic is available from:
From the age of 50, the older people become, the more their activity rate (share of economically active persons) declines. Whereas 90% of men and 82% of women were still working at the age of 57 (period 2018-2020), at the age of 64 the activity rate of men was 56% and that of women at age 63 was 52%. At age 65 36% of men were still economically active and at age 64 28% of women.
The average age on leaving the labour market was 64.8 in 2022. On average, men leave the labour market somewhat later than women (average of the past five years: 0.8 years later).
In the period from 2018-2020, the early retirement rate of people one year before ordinary (legal) retirement age was 39% (at age 64) for men and 30.4% (at age 63) for women.
In 2022, the number of persons aged 65 or more per 100 economically active persons aged 20 to 64 was 37.0.
The health of senior citizens is very heterogeneous in terms of age, gender, level of education and place of residence. 76% of people aged between 65 and 79 years living in private households report being in (very) good health compared with 64% of people aged 80 and over.
Care due to health reasons
In 2017, 15% of people aged 65 and over used informal care due to health reasons and 8% used home care services. By contrast, the share of older persons who helped their relatives or acquaintances was 31%.
Home care services
More than 70% of the 370 000 people receiving professional home care services are at least 65 years old. The number of hours of care received increases with age.
Nursing homes accommodate older persons who require long-term care. 15% of persons aged 80 and over live in a nursing home; three quarters of their residents are women.
Hospitalisations increase with age. Almost a quarter (23%) of persons aged 65 and over are hospitalised at least once a year.
Causes of death
Half of persons who die are aged 84 and over; almost nine in ten are aged at least 65 years. Cancer is the main cause of death among older persons between the age of 65 and 84 years. This is superseded by cardiovascular disease from the age of 85.
Many older persons are involved in activities to assist parents, acquaintances, their children or associations. In this way, they make an important voluntary contribution to the accomplishment of tasks that are necessary to the community.
In 2018, 72% of grandparents regularly or occasionally looked after their grandchildren. Among those with one or more grandchildren under the age of 13, 40% looked after a child at least once a week, 18% at least once a month and 14% less than once a month or during holidays. Grandmothers looked after their grandchildren more often than grandfathers.
The total volume of non-remunerated work for the care of grandchildren was estimated at 157 million hours in 2020 which represented a monetary value of CHF 7.7 billion. Details:
In 2020, the participation rate of persons aged 65 to 74 years in formal and/or informal voluntary work was 45%. This rate remains above the Swiss average (population aged 15 and over: 41%), although the overall decline in participation compared to 2016 was more marked for this age group. Details:
Other indicators relating to voluntary work, self-assessment of one's own health, support from family and friends and older persons’ consumer habits are also available. Details:
In Switzerland, most people aged 65 or over take a positive view of their financial situation. Low incomes can often be supplemented by financial reserves.
There is considerable variation among the older population, however. People whose household income mainly comes from 1st pillar benefits are particularly disadvantaged in almost all areas: they are more likely to be income poor, are less likely to have asset reserves and view their own financial situation more negatively than average among the older population. Also, in people who live alone, those with no post-compulsory education and foreign nationals, there are several signs that financial means in old age are scarce or insufficient.
Statistical sources and concepts