Monetary poverty is currently determined on the basis of the income situation of private households. In future, the poverty statistics are to be supplemented with an indicator based on households’ total financial means (income and assets). Various ways of integrating wealth in poverty measurement are discussed in a methods paper using provisional wealth data.
The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has been publishing regular information on poverty in Switzerland since 2001. According to the current definition, all persons who cannot afford to buy the goods and services necessary for a socially integrated life are considered poor. Conceptually, both income and assets have thus always been included in the FSO’s definition of poverty. Until now, however, only income from assets and letting (interest, dividends, rental income etc.) could be considered in Swiss poverty statistics, but not the wealth components themselves (e.g. account balances, value of financial investments, valuables and real estate).
In future, the poverty statistics are to be supplemented with an indicator based on households’ total financial means (income and assets). In Switzerland no wealth data are currently available that meet the substantive and quality requirements for such analyses. The FSO therefore integrated a pilot module on the topic of wealth in the survey on income and living conditions (SILC), which is also the basis of data for official poverty statistics. These data are provisional and not suitable for standard publication. On this basis, however, it was possible to conduct initial exploratory analyses on the integration of wealth in poverty measurement.
As experimental statistics, the aim of the publication is to open up the dialogue with users at an early stage of the project in order to make it possible to include their needs in the further development and consolidation of the methodology. The results primarily serve to test the chosen approach. In this form, they do not fulfil the high quality standards that the Federal Statistical Office usually applies and cannot be used as a basis for planning and management purposes.