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assistance Social welfare recipients on the decline


Protestors against proposed cuts to welfare in canton Bern, June 2017.

(© Keystone / Thomas Delley)

The number of people in Switzerland receiving social assistance has decreased for the first time in a decade, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) says.

In 2018, some 272,700 people received social assistance payments, compared with around 278,000 the previous year. It’s the first time since 2008 that both overall numbers and the rate of beneficiaries declined.

The rate of social welfare beneficiaries dropped from 3.3% to 3.2%, the FSO reported.

Marc Dubach from the stats office told public broadcaster RTS that the decrease – observed across almost all cantons – was due to a strong job market. “The downturn in the unemployment rate over the last few years has been beneficial for the general situation,” he said.

The only cantons that did not see a decrease between 2017 and 2018 were Jura, Valais, and Glarus. In general, French-speaking cantons in the south-west of the country, as well as urban areas everywhere, witness higher rates of benefits payments.

Minors, divorcees, and foreigners are more likely than average to turn to social aid, the FSO reported.

It also noted that holding a secondary or third-level education degree approximately doubles the chances of an individual finding a path out of the social welfare system.


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