In 2018, the number of people receiving social welfare in Switzerland fell from 278,300, or 3.3% of the population, to 272,700, 3.2% of the population.
The last time the number fell was in 2008 when it dropped from 3.1% (233,500) to 2.9% (222,600) of the population.
The percentage of people on welfare varies significantly by type of household, nationality and canton.
Rates are far higher for single parent households (21%) than families with unmarried parents (7%) or families with married parents (2%). Around 5% of single people were on welfare in 2018.
The low percentage of Swiss citizens (2%) on welfare contrasts with the high rates of those from South America (13%), Asia (12%) and Africa (29%) on social support. The rates among nationals from the EU-28 (3%) and the rest of Europe (8%) were closer to Swiss rates. While nationals from Oceania and North America were less likely to be on welfare than Swiss citizens.
Cantons with the highest rates were Neuchâtel (7%), Basel-City (6%), Geneva (6%), Vaud (4%) and Bern (4%). Cantons with lowest rates were the rural cantons of Uri, Obwalden, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Nidwalden. These cantons all had rates around 1%.
Switzerland’s government has been working hard to reduce welfare fraud. Rules on using detectives to uncover fraud were introduced earlier in 2019.