EVS in a nutshell

The European Values Study (EVS) is a large-scale, cross-national survey on basic human values conducted every nine years since 1981.

With more than 47 participating countries, the EVS is the most comprehensive research project on human values in Europe. It gives a unique insight into the ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values, and opinions of citizens all over Europe.

From 1981 to 2008, four waves of survey were conducted in European and other countries. These surveys explore value differences, similarities, and value changes among citizens of the EVS member countries. The collected data allow both for comparisons over time and space and can also be combined with the data of the World Values ​​Survey. This offers the possibility to compare data from 113 different world regions over a period of more than 35 years.

Switzerland is participating for the third time in the study in 2017 (after 1990 and 2008). The planning and conduct of the survey in Switzerland is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The 2017 edition will be carried out both face-to-face and online (self-administered) with a gross sample of 8,400 respondents.


The main aims of the EVS are:

  • To document social change in Europe and its consequences (for example processes of globalization and individualization). For this purpose, two-thirds of the questions are repeated in each survey wave.
  • To produce a continuous series of valuable data for comparisons over time and across countries that monitor the evolution of personal and social values across Europe
  • To provide the scientific community with a platform that gives free access to a large amount of high-level data and offers the possibility for knowledge exchange
Structure and founding

Initiated by the European Value Systems Study Group (informal academic grouping) in the late 1970s, 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.

Planning and conduct in Switzerland:

In Switzerland it is FORS that is in charge of directing the survey. Under the lead of Michèle Ernst Staehli, the Swiss EVS-Team performs the following tasks: Translation of the English source questionnaire into three national languages (French, German, and Italian), sample drawing for Switzerland, development of specific survey methods, cleaning, processing and documentation of the Swiss EVS Data. The fieldwork is carried out by a specialized agency.

The EVS in Switzerland is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).


The respondents are drawn from a probabilistic sample representing the countries’ population aged 18 and above. The 2017 survey wave will be carried out both face-to-face (CAPI) and online (self-administered, CAWI) with a gross sample of  8,400 respondents.

The EVS being considered a survey of national importance to Switzerland, a sample of individuals can be drawn randomly from the sampling register of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, according to Art. 13c, para. 2, lett. d, order of 30th June 1993 regarding the implementation of federal statistical surveys.

Resume of the Survey Methodology :

Topics / Survey waves

The European Values Study covers a wide range of human values. 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, new topics such as solidarity, social capital, democracy, and work ethics were included. In the last wave in 2008, the survey questions focused on a broad range of values and aimed at assuring the comparability across the different waves.

For examples of which topics are studied, click on one of the main domains below

For more information on the four waves of the European Values Study (study design, fieldwork procedure, and available data and documentation) go to:

1st EVS wave (16 countries)

2nd EVS wave (29 countries)

3rd EVS wave (33 countries)

4th EVS wave (47 countries/regions)

5th EVS wave


After fieldwork is completed, FORS will review and verify the data and process it, so it can be integrated into the central data archive of the EVS. The anonymized datasets of the EVS are freely available to researchers and other interested people after previous registration and agreement to the data use conditions.

The Swiss EVS-data are also available on the FORSbase data catalogue. The related documentation is available in French and German.

To facilitate time series analysis, the EVS Longitudinal data File 1981-2008 has been constructed. For comparisons on an international level, this data file can easily be combined with the World Values Surveys Longitudinal data File 1981-2014. The resulting Integrated Values Surveys 1981-2014 will cover surveys conducted in 113 countries/regions.

Researchers are hold to respect the data use conditions, in particular the proper citation in articles or other forms of publications. All publications that make reference to the data must be communicated to the EVS Bibliography.

Links / further documents :

  • The international data and related documentation are available at the GESIS Data Archive, and are free of charge.
  • The site of the European Values Study 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.
Research results / Publications

Today, the EVS study spans a full generation, revealing value changes on topics such as homosexuality and working moms, but also demonstrating firm European traditions in democracy and rejection of bribes.

Since the beginning of the project, a rich academic literature on values has been created : The EVS Bibliography presently contains over 1.500 publications. Most of them are in English, but other languages are included as well. For more information, please consult: EVS Bibliography.

Atlas of European Values:

This Atlas is the result of the European Values Study. It covers all European nations from Iceland to Turkey, and from Portugal to Russia. It graphically illustrates the rich diversity of values and beliefs of the more than 800 million Europeans living inside and outside the European Union today.