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Social indicators

An indicator presents synthetic information on the condition of individuals, of a population, or a country. Many types exist, such as economic, environmental, demographic, and social indicators. Social indicators scientifically measure a phenomenon or a social process. They are often used to inform policymakers – especially political indicators – about the state and evolution of a specific social phenomenon, as well as the impact of certain measures on this phenomenon (e.g., the “poverty of population” indicator).

Social indicators are also used to compare countries with each other. OECD, Eurostat, or the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) calculate and publish many indicators. FORS is also involved in the production and publication of various social indicators, particularly by way of its Swiss Social Report ( This book is published every four years since 2000 and consists of 75 indicators divided into five major topics: economy, culture, social integration, politics, and environment. Indicators are also complemented by analytically oriented in-depth texts that are written by specialists from Swiss universities.

Below are some selected social indicators from data available from FORS. This choice of indicators shows the opinions of the Swiss population on certain aspects of life or society:

Satisfaction and goals in life

Subjective health

Work-life balance

Political convictions


Some useful links to other indicator systems:

Better Life Index of OECD

Quality of life indicators of Eurostat

Demographic indicators France

Health indicators for Switzerland (only available in German and French)

- Wellbeing indicators (Swiss federal office of statistics, only available in German and French)

Indicators of sustainable development in Switzerland (MONET)