Poverty and social security during the Covid-19 pandemic
As part of its pandemic control efforts, Switzerland imposed restrictions on public and business life. This project investigates the impact on the financial situation and poverty levels of the country’s population.
Using linked tax data for 4.5 million people, the research group will investigate changes in income and assets between 2019 and 2022, focusing on the situation of people with few financial resources. By linking these data with data on social security benefits, it will also be possible to show how effectively the social security system protects the people affected. A further part of the project will use case data from Caritas Switzerland, the country’s biggest NGO, which supported more than 100,000 people during the pandemic. This social security safety net comes into play particularly when there are gaps in state cover. This basis will be used to develop a poverty monitoring early warning system for future crises.
The studies carried out to date focused mainly on the first phase of the pandemic and used random sample-based surveys of the Swiss population. This large-scale study using administrative data will permit a considerably more comprehensive classification. The pandemic also highlighted the urgent need for poverty indicators that deliver information promptly. Public statistics and administrative data only become available after a period of up to 3 years, making targeted crisis management difficult.
The aim is to conduct a systematic analysis of the situation of people with few financial resources enabling us to assess crisis management from the perspective of socio-economically disadvantaged groups. The findings will be used to improve the management of future crises.
The comprehensive data pool will make it possible to examine the situation for different population groups during different phases of the pandemic. It will permit an assessment of the social security system and an examination of Switzerland's federal organisation.
The findings will provide the basis of a policy brief on managing any future crisis in a more socially compatible way. The early warning system that will be developed will also give Switzerland an opportunity to acquire poverty indicators that deliver information promptly.
Poverty and social security in time of crisis – lessons (to be) learned during the Covid-19 pandemic