Numbers play a critical role in the history of social security in Switzerland. Presented in the form of statistics and forecasts, they indicate trends in long-term developments and provide information about financing and cost of social welfare systems. But statistics have also often sparked political controversies. Numbers are not simply a representation of reality; they also determine how social conditions are perceived and interpreted. In addition, they provide arguments for or against societal and political change. This section presents key metrics on the development of social security in Switzerland. It also draws attention to significant socio-political controversies concerning the calculation and evaluation of statistical data.
The numbers and statistics shown here depict the development of social security in Switzerland over a longer period of time. These data series were selected to allow for the reconstruction of the various aspects to this development over a single generation, half a century or even the entire century. The statistics depict the risks covered by the various forms of social security, capture the diversity of the institutions responsible and offer an overview of the costs of social security – both within economic sectors and as a whole.
These aspects are analyzed for the six ‘risks’ or classes of social security addressed on this section: old age provision, health, unemployment, accident and disability insurance as well as loss of income and maternity. Social assistance is indirectly addressed.
Those who wish to learn more about the quantitative development of social security in Switzerland are invited to consult the Statistique des assurances sociales suisses / Schweizerische Sozialversicherungsstatistik (SAS/SVS) (in french and german) and the Social Insurance Accounts (GRSV) which have been published annually by the Federal Social Insurance Office since the end of the 1990s. The Social Security Accounts (GRSS) prepared by the Federal Statistics Office since 2003 likewise provides extensive, historical data series.