Social Statistics


There is a need to elaborate not only on the majority of the tables in this chapter, but also on its title. The term “Social Statistics” is generally defined in a broader sense than we use it here; for example, the “Handbook of Swiss Social Statistics” (“Handbuch der schweizerischen Sozialstatistik” / “Manuel de statistique social suisse” published by the Federal Office for Industry, Trade, and Labor, BIGA/OFIAMT), includes, among other things, prices of factor and goods, residential construction, unemployment, and foreign workers. For good reason, the “Historical Statistics of Switzerland” deals with those in separate chapters. On the other hand, this chapter contains a few tables which the BIGA/OFIAMT apparently does not view as part of “Social Statistics”: Information on welfare provisions by cantons, asylums for Swiss abroad in need, the financials of Swiss emergency assistance, the waves of refugees during and after World War II, and union memberships. In fact, the similarities between the abovementioned “Handbook of Swiss Social Statistics” and this chapter do not go beyond a summary of the BIGA/OFIAMT statistics on collective union conflicts – this may be curious, but at the least, there is the advantage that the two publications complement each other.

Poverty Assistance in the Cantons 1870, 1890, 1912, 1945, 1950, and 1955

Canton and local welfare poverty assistance statistics reach back way into the 19th century, but we were only able to process them in a rudimentary fashion, leaving us with a review of the major results of canton poverty statistics for the years 1870, 1890, and 1912, and canton poverty assistance in the years 1945–1955. It should be noted that the volume containing the results of the 1890 census, published by the Statistical Bureau of the Federal Department of the Interior, also contains a comparative table listing the major results of the 1870 census. We assign more credibility to this data than to the totally different figures found in the 1877 volume of the “Journal of Swiss Statistics” (“Zeitschrift für schweizerische Statistik” / “Journal de statistique suisse”).

Immigrants, Refugees, Foreign Military Personnel, and Assistance to Refugees in the Years 1939–1947

We fully integrated into this publication the surprisingly precise figures given by the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland on the number of immigrants, refugees, deserters, and hospitalized and interned military personnel in the years 1939–1947. It must be emphasized, however, that we are dealing with estimates which, at least for refugees, seem rather low. The same holds true for the monthly police statistics about the number of refugees refused at the border between August, 1942 and May, 1945, which Carl Ludwig incorporated in his 1957 report to the Executive Federal Council and the Parliament on Swiss refugee policies of the preceding two decades.
Not obvious from the summaries in the Statistical Yearbook is the fact that the great majority of the emigrants and refugees admitted into Switzerland between 1933 and 1945 were persecuted Jews, the exact number of which may never be known. It is known, however, that approximately 23,000 Jewish refugees were registered with the Association of Swiss Jewish Refugee Support Organization in the year 1944, of which 11,000 received full or partial financial support. In 1945, the same association handled 3,058 immigrants and 20,209 refugees and, in addition, organized 9873 departures and transits. Precise destination data on the emigrations facilitated by this refugee association can be found in a 1954 essay by Otto H. Heim. The same author provided an estimate on funds expended on Jewish refugees in Switzerland for the years 1933–1952. We compiled this review, as it represents a rather interesting complement to the expenditure tables in the appendix of the “Report Ludwig”, which provides no information on refugee help performed by Jewish institutions and private individuals.
Ludwig’s 400-plus pages of research documentation served Alfred A. Häsler 1967 as the foundation for his wellknown book “The Boat is full” (“Das Boot ist voll”), an attention-rousing report exposing Swiss asylum policies dedicated to the repelling of all things foreign, and the difficult situation of Jewish refugees and Swiss Jews in the small neutral nation surrounded by axis powers. Recently, Bernese historian Jacques Picard further illuminated this topic in a profound investigation which covers in detail the philosophical backgrounds and the political and institutional sides of the refugee issues in the years 1933–1945. A comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted demographic refugee movements, in which Switzerland was directly or indirectly involved during World War II, still remains to be done. Figures in Franco Battel’s licentiate thesis (“Lizentiatsarbeit”) on refugees in the canton of Schaffhausen between 1933 and 1945 indicate that such a study is not impossible.

Refugees and Asylum Application Since the End of World War II

With the exception of BIGA/OFIAMT statistics printed in the journal “The Economy” (“Die Volkswirtschaft” / “La vie économique”) about the number of Hungarian refugees in the cantons in August 1957, none of the literature we consulted provided any information on refugees coming into Switzerland in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Whether the Federal Archive in Bern retains statistics on the influx of Czechoslovakian refugees in the years 1968–1970 remains to be determined. In any case, annual data on the number of refugees has only been published in Switzerland since the year 1982. We present this data for the years 1982 and 1991 sorted by nations of origin of refugees in each canton.
The Federal Office for Refugees was kind enough to send us a summary of processed and pending asylum applications dating back to the year 1964, and a table showing the number and origin of asylum applicants since 1970.

Swiss Assistance Organizations and Asylums for Swiss Abroad in Need 1898 and 1912

The 1899–1913 editions of the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland contain data on the financial condition and use of Swiss assistance organizations, and organizations and asylums on foreign soil supported by the Swiss government. The rich data enabled us to create a summary, sorted by type of institution, for the “corner years” 1898 and 1912. A reduced set of statistics continued for some time after 1912. Beginning in 1917, however, the Statistical Yearbook used the term “asylum” to indicate an entirely different category of institutions: instead of referring to Swiss assistance organizations and sanctuaries abroad, the term now covers homes for the blind and the deaf-mute, as well as “insane asylums”.

Relief Organizations, Foundations, Contributions, and Federal Assistance for Swiss Nationals Living Abroad 1912–1986

Towards the end of the time between the wars, official statistics were expanded, with several tables reviewing the financials of Swiss relief organizations, private contributions, and federal assistance to Swiss nationals living abroad, single women, and foreign relief organizations. Some of these tables contain figures for earlier decades, but those consist primarily of three- or five-year averages. In such cases, we also present averages for later decades (for which annual statistics are available).

Foreign Aid 1945–1993

Apart from aid to emigrants and refugees from Nazi-Germany, there was no organized foreign aid in Switzerland until after the end of World War II. Our summaries on Swiss contributions to other European nations in the years 1945–1948 and foreign aid for 1948–1960 – which until 1956 exclusively benefited the war-ravaged European continent – are based on official data from the Statistical earbook of Switzerland. Overall foreign aid, on the one hand provided by the federal government, cantons, and municipalities, and by private industry and private relief organizations on the other, is documented since 1961. Based on annual summaries compiled by the Office for Foreign Assistance of the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (DEH/DFAE), we were able to extend until 1992 the 1961–1985 figures published in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland. In addition, we managed to use the DEH/ DFAE computer printouts for the preparation of a table showing the major recipient countries of Swiss bilateral development aid in the years 1980–1993.

Union Membership Levels 1881–1990

1880 saw the establishment of the “Union Association of Switzerland” (“Schweizerischer Gewerkschaftsbund [SGB]” / “Union sociale suisse [USS]”), which remains the largest umbrella organization of Swiss employee unions to this date. Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter estimated the overall membership of unions belonging to the SGB/ USS for the years 1881–1913. When examining these estimates, it must be considered that the numbers apply to the beginning of the year, whereas the Union Association’s statistics, starting in 1905, indicate membership at year end. For the period 1881–1913, Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter managed to reconstruct the overall membership of all other unions as well. We therefore have estimate series of the entire population of unionized employees in Switzerland for the three decades before the world wars. Unfortunately, the estimates end in 1913; the overall membership of non-SGB union members does not seem to be reconstructable for the ensuing years and decades. (For the years 1907–1914, Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter determined the membership of the second largest union umbrella organization in Switzerland at the time, the Christian-Social Union Association. We did not include that short series into this publication). Official statistics commence in the year 1921. They report on the memberships of the SGB/ USS, the Christian-Social (since 1921: Christian- National) Union Association, the Association of Swiss Employee Unions, and various autonomous unions. As far back as the early 1920s, official statistics show the membership levels of the major individual SGB/USS and Association of Swiss Employee Union members.
Individual SGB/USS union memberships statistics can actually be traced back even further, to the year 1905. These statistics were expanded significantly in 1917, with the year end addition of a half dozen pages in the Union Association of Switzerlands monthly “Swiss Union Review” (“Gewerkschaftliche Rundschau für die Schweiz” / “Revue syndicale suisse”), reporting membership levels of individual SGB/USS unions in all Swiss municipalities. We processed that data in a manner that resulted in a SGB/USS membership summary by union, canton, and city for the years 1921, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1953, and 1961.
For some years, the sum of the membership of unions which were at any time affiliated with an umbrella organization far exceeds the total combined membership of the umbrella organizations. This is probably explained by the fact that the number of unions affiliated with an umbrella organization varied from year to year. A large number of entries and exits must have occurred, especially, in the Christian-National Union Association and the Association of Swiss Employee Unions in the period 1920–1960.
There is much literature covering the Swiss union movement. Apart from the second volume – authored by Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter – of the summary trilogy “Working class and Economy in Switzerland 1880–1914” (“Arbeiterschaft und Wirtschaft in der Schweiz 1880–1914”), we refer to Bernhard Degen’s book on the developments of the late 1910s and the 1920s, and to the voluminous handbook on unions and employee associations in the Swiss private industry by Robert Fluder, Heinz Ruf, Walter Schöni, and Martin Wicki. The latter publication – fruit of a National Fund project directed by professor Hans Geser at the Sociological Institute of the University of Zurich and by professors Heidi Schelbert-Syfrig and Mark Hauser at the Institute for Empirical Economy Research – has an imposing statistical appendix that contains, in addition to detailed membership statistics of individual unions, a complete chronology of foundings, mergers, and splits of Swiss employee unions, including those for public servants, reaching back beyond the founding of the SGB/USS.

Union Labor Disputes 1880–1986

The Swiss statistics on union labor disputes can be divided into three partially overlapping sections. For the years 1880–1914 we are using the comprehensive set of statistics compiled by Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter. The authors report that they included “every strike known to us, no matter what the duration or the number of participants”. The following paragraph provides explanation of the measures used to quantify collective bargaining disputes between owners and employees.
“Strikes” were defined as disputes with work interruptions of at least two hours. Work slowdowns, sabotage, and boycotts were not included, and general strikes were covered separately. Lockouts initiated by employers, on the other hand, are included in the strike statistics. Because the portion of pure lockouts (lockouts which were not responded to with a strike by the employees) amounted to less than five percent of all labor disputes, the “real” strike statistics are minimally impacted by the inclusion of lockouts.
The statistical values “number of strikers” and “participants” are defined by the authors as the “maximum number of participants in the dispute at any time”; “strike volume” describes the product of the factors “maximum number of strikers” and “strike duration in work days”. When constructing this indicator – which is not identical with the “strike days” or “lost work days” favored by the SGB/USS and later also by the BIGA/ OFIAMT – the authors counted partial strike days and strikes that only lasted for a few hours as full days, and used the same definition to determine the strike volume of multi-day strike actions, even if one of the strike days was a local holiday. It is to the credit of the authors that they discussed the disadvantages as well as the advantages of their chosen method. One of the disadvantages is described in the admission that “most official foreign statistics, more or less successfully, try to accommodate the fluctuating number of participants and non-Sunday holidays”, which means that the Swiss strike volume for the years 1880–1914 might have been slightly overestimated by Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter.
Finally, the term “general strike” was used by the authors to describe a labor dispute if it extended “over all operations of a more or less precisely defined geographic area, where it is not necessary, and in practice almost impossible, that each and every operation is hit by the strike”. The middle of the three time periods, by which we divided the Swiss collective labor dispute statistics, covers the period 1906–1930 and contains by far the most conflicts. The volumes 1911–1931 of the Union Association of Switzerland’s monthly publication cover a multitude of so-called “salary movements” – tables which provide vivid testimony of the intensity of the disputes. A portion of the figures published in the Statistical Yearbook came from the “Union Review” (“Gewerkschaftliche Rundschau”); however, a historical analysis of these incomplete, but nevertheless most informative, statistics has not been performed yet. Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter, who made noticeable upwards corrections in the strike figures collected by the Swiss Workers Office for the years 1880–1894, leave open whether “the same procedure would not also increase the figures (especially) between 1917 and 1920”. Since the SGB/USS uses terminology different from that employed by Balthasar, Gruner, and Hirter, it comes as no surprise that the figures from those two sources do not agree for the years 1911–1914. With the SGB/USS’s statistics, the primary fault lies in its ignoring of any labor disputes of non-SGB/USS unions.
However, the BIGA/OFIAMT strike statistics starting in 1927 are also not free of deficiencies. Since reporting strikes was not mandatory, the statistics had to be based on newspaper reports. Due to this, strikes that lasted less than a day were not included. But, since the SGB/USS statistics published in the “Union Reviw” were discontinued after 1946, we still use the BIGA/ OFIAMT statistics in our presentation of labor disputes in the years 1927–1986.

SOURCE: «Social Statistics» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 987-993

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The current chapter contains 23 table(s) between 1870 and 1993