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International data


FORS is a member of CESSDA (Council of European Social Science Data Archives). This organization is a network of European data archives that, as a coordination center, contributes in defining international documentation standards. It also oversees the dissemination of data at the heart of the network and promotes international exchange. FORS’ participation in CESSDA opens access to Swiss researchers to the entirety of data distributed by the archive members. In addition, CESSDA offers on its website a portal which groups all data disseminated by the Nesstar servers of the network of archives.


Access to ICPSR data in Switzerland:

The ICPSR, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is one of the oldest and certainly the world’s most important social science data archive. It ensures access to American datasets as well as the most important foreign datasets, i.e. the Eurobarometer studies of the EU.

The funding of the ICPSR is assured by a system of institutional members, most of which are universities and other educational institutions. Each member institution has an official ICPSR representative who is in charge of adressing people’s requests for datasets or support during their quest for relevant data.

The ICPSR has also introduced an authentication system that grants direct data access to anyone with an IP address of one of the member organizations.

In Switzerland, access to ICPSR data is assured by 3 organisations:

Organisation Data access Representative
FORS Direct access for the personnel and the students of the universities of Lausanne, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Berne, Basel and St Gall, the schools of applied sciences and Federal Polytechnical Schools Stefan Buerli
University of Geneva The personnel and the students of the University of Geneva have to address their demands for data to the official representative Eugène Horber
University of Zürich Direct access for the personnel and the students of the University of Zurich Andrée Helminger


At the moment, only the main bulk of IP adresses of the universities represented by FORS are integrated into the direct access system. If you should encounter any problems in accessing the data, please contact the official representative at FORS.

The direct access system has not yet been implemented for the social science sections of the universities of applied science but will be very soon. As for now, interested people from universities of applied science can contact the official representative at FORS.

LIS – Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg

LIS, the Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg is an international project that makes available to researchers a harmonized database of household income. It integrates microdata from different national surveys conducted at regular intervals in 41 participating countries. With respect to Switzerland, the data come from the Swiss Survey on Household Income and Expenditures (ERC), conducted by the Federal Office of Statistics (years 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004). Switzerland also provided data, but to a lesser extent, for the years 1982 and 1992.

The strength of this database is that it permits international comparisons, as well as analysis of changes over time. It is very popular among students in the political, economic, and social sciences, but also among researchers who work in the domains of poverty and income inequalities.

Access to the data

Since Switzerland is a member of the project, researchers and students of the country can, after registration, use this database free of charge, according to the LIS dissemination procedures. It should be noted that the LIS makes freely available on its website hundreds of “working papers” based on user analyses. Finally, a workshop for getting to know the database and possibilities for its use is held each summer in Luxembourg.

You will find more information on the LIS website.