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European Values Study

Aim and organisation of the study.

EVS (European Value Study) is a large-scale survey on human values and is conducted every nine years since 1981. The research program aims to capture ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values and opinions of the population all over Europe. In 2008, 47 countries participated in the study. The Swiss National Science Foundation financed the survey waves for Switzerland in 1990 and 2008. The Swiss sample is composed of a minimum of 1,200 residents 18 years of age and older.

Initiated by the European Value Systems Study Group (informal academic grouping), the EVS foundation is coordinated by the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Tilburg University in The Netherlands. The foundation’s international board members are responsible for the mediation with funding agencies, and the planning and promoting of joint activities. The Council of Program Directors (international academics) manages the EVS project and confirms the general programme of the study, the final questionnaire, and the survey method. The Executive Committee of the EVS is in charge of the daily responsibilities. A Theory Group initially designs the questionnaire; a Methodology Group accounts for the quality of the project.

The FORS international studies team prepares the questionnaire translations from the source English version in the three national languages (French, German, and Italian), draws the sample of potential respondents in Switzerland, oversees the collection of data, and cleans and documents the data.


The EVS survey follows the principles of random sampling, with the goal of providing a representative view of the situation in Switzerland. The interviews, which last one hour on average, are conducted face to face.

Summary table of methodological features of the EVS survey in Switzerland

Target population All people 18 years of age or older residing in Switzerland
People surveyed Random sample, with at least 1,200 respondents
Mode Interviews face-to-face, CAPI
Sample construction Random sampling in three stages since 2008:

  • Sample of postal codes drawn from each of the large regions of Switzerland
  • Selection of a determinate number of households/addresses from each of the sampled postal codes
  • Designation of one person from each household/address


Thematic contents.

In 1981 and 1990, the study covered already a broad range of themes concerning family and sexuality, work and leisure time, religion, politics, and ethics. In the third wave in 1999, the new issues of solidarity, social capital, democracy, and work ethics were additionally included. In the last wave in 2008, the survey questions focused on a broad range of values and assured the comparability across the different waves.

  • The data and related documentation are available at the GESIS Data Archive, and are free of charge.
  • The site of the European Value Study Foundation provides additional information on the origin and organisation of the study, on the participating countries, the research topics, and the questionnaires. The EVS Repository gives an overview of all publications using EVS data.
  • Publications using the Swiss survey data should be reported to the FORS international studies team.