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Kinderarmut in der Schweiz und soziale Mobilität zwischen den Generationen

Zusammenfassung der Resultate

The project is subdivided in three main research themes: children well-being, child poverty and intergenerational transmission of economic opportunities.

The first theme is linked to the theoretical and empirical literature on child cost. The purpose of such studies is to evaluate the cost of additional children within a household. This enables to estimate equivalence scales which allow the comparison of income from households of different sizes and composition. This topic is quite important as, for example, child allowances and social benefits are based on equivalence scales. We contribute to this literature by using subjective data i.e. income satisfaction data drawn from the Swiss household panel. This kind of data has been widely used by economists to overcome some difficulties encountered with more traditional research instruments. Our results suggest that the equivalence scales used so far by social institutions in Switzerland put too much emphasis on large families in comparison to small families. It follows that the welfare level of large families may be underestimated in comparison to that of small families when one uses "official scales".

In a second step, we investigate child poverty and its determinants in Switzerland with data from the Swiss income and expenditure survey (SIES). We focus on children since what happens to an individual during the earliest phase of her/his life cycle will have an extremely important impact on her/his future. Previous studies on poverty in Switzerland seemed to indicate that children are the largest single population affected by poverty. However, our results alter somewhat this picture as we show that the choice of the equivalence scales was partly driving such findings. Indeed, the extent of child poverty depends mainly on the choice of the equivalence scales. When we use our own estimated scales, we find that children do not face significantly higher than average poverty rates compared to other demographic subgroups. However, one should note that small age children are still significantly poorer than average. Moreover, if we exclude the elderly (more than 60 years old) from our analysis, we do observe that children are still the most vulnerable population.

In regard to the determinants of child poverty, we find that poverty risks for large families heavily depend on the choice of the equivalence scales. On the one hand and according to "expert" scales such as those used by the CSIAS, the main body in charge of social norms in Switzerland, family size is a major cause of child poverty. On the other hand, family size is no longer an important factor when we use our own scales. Otherwise, the results are quite consistent across poverty definitions. The main determinants shaping child poverty are the socio-economic position of the household head (labour force participation, type of employment, etc.) and family structure. In this respect, one can especially point to single parents' families. Such findings underline the need for policies that improve the access to the labour market for single parents. Among them, better child care institutions as well as work incentives for low-income families could be the appropriate instruments.

It is widely agreed nowadays that being poor does not simply mean not having enough money. Indeed, it has been recognized that other aspects of life not necessarily related to income can impair human development, such as the access to public goods, health, or education. We develop a measure of multidimensional poverty and compare it with financial poverty. To this end, we use standard definitions and equivalence scales. Our results indicate that families with children have a higher probability of being poor if we base our analysis on financial poverty. The reverse is true when we consider the multidimensional measure. This provides evidence that the conventional approach to poverty analysis may not properly measure the welfare of families with children. This is quite important as, ultimately, resources may not be allocated to the children that need them most.

Intergenerational links can be considered as consequences of the economic conditions during childhood. While we cannot measure the impact of low income parents on individual well-being, we study the intergenerational correlation of educational attainment. Intergenerational correlation with respect to educational attainment is generally found to be quite high. Yet, these observed correlations could stem either from social factors or natural factors such as genetic endowment. While some family background variables are measurable like parents' education or occupation, some cannot be observed in our data. This is typically the case for variables like genetic endowment or the parents' investment in their children's human capital. To control for these unobserved factors, we use a large sample of twins aged between 15 and 19 years old drawn from the 2000 census data. Our results seem to indicate that unobservable factors play a greater role than observable factors. Unfortunately, lack of information on whether our twins are monozygotic does not enable us to disentangle genetic factors from environmental factors. While "natural" factors seem to be predominant, our results point to important intergenerational effects. For example, a father with tertiary education raises the probability to pursue higher education by 15% for young individuals in Switzerland. This should be a concern for policymakers as the impact of observable variables such as parents' schooling may be considered as inequities produced either by the educational system or by the society as a whole.

Weitere Informationen zum Projekt

Mit dieser Untersuchung werden zwei Ziele verfolgt: Das erste besteht darin, die wirtschaftliche Lage von Schweizer Kindern zu beschreiben, indem das Phänomen der Kinderarmut untersucht wird. In einer zweiten Phase wird versucht, den Zusammenhang zwischen den Generationen hinsichtlich ihrer wirtschaftlichen Chancen zu beurteilen.

Im beginnenden 21. Jahrhundert hängen die wirtschaftlichen Chancen der Bevölkerung zunehmend davon ab, wie viel Humankapital der Einzelne in der Lage ist anzusammeln. Dieser Begriff des Humankapitals umfasst kognitive, kulturelle und soziale Elemente. In diesem Zusammenhang wird offensichtlich, dass die Ereignisse der ersten Phase des Daseins bedeutende Auswirkungen auf die Zukunft eines Individuums haben.

Das Forschungsprojekt zielt nicht nur darauf ab, das Ausmass der Kinderarmut in der Schweiz zu messen, sondern auch darauf, die begleitenden Hauptfaktoren dafür zu bestimmen. Eine weitere Zielsetzung besteht darin, die jüngste Entwicklung dieses Phänomens mit Hilfe von Daten zu untersuchen, die zwischen den Jahren 1990 und 2001 gesammelt worden sind. So kann man beurteilen, ob die makro-ökonomischen Veränderungen die Kinder stärker beeinflusst haben. Schliesslich werden die Konsequenzen analysiert, die die familiäre Umgebung auf die wirtschaftlichen Chancen des Einzelnen haben kann. Die Fragestellung lautet: Bildet die Situation der Eltern einen der Hauptfaktoren für den Erfolg der Kinder? Dabei wird die Aufmerksamkeit vor allem auf die erreichten Ausbildungsstufen gerichtet, da sie zweifellos den besten Indikator für den wirtschaftlichen Erfolg des Einzelnen darstellen.

Diese Untersuchung wird hauptsächlich mittels einer mikroökonometrischen Analyse von individuellen Daten wie die Verbrauchserhebung, die Volkszählung oder den Schweizer Haushalt-Panel durchgeführt.

Durch diese Untersuchung lassen sich einerseits die Vulnerabilitätsfaktoren von Schweizer Kindern sowie die von Kinderarbeit betroffenen gesellschaftlichen Hauptgruppen bestimmen. Anderseits ist es dank der Ergebnisse möglich das Ausmass an sozialer und wirtschaftlicher Mobilität zwischen den Generationen zu bestimmen. Diese Fragen sind von entscheidender Bedeutung, da sie das Prinzip der Chancengleichheit zwischen den Individuen tangieren.

Projektdauer: 01.07.03 – 30.6.05

Bewilligtes Projekt: CHF 243 134

Proposal no.: 405240-69002

Anschrift des Hauptgesuchstellers:
Prof. Yves Flückiger
Uni Mail
Département d’Economie politique
40, bd. du Pont d’Arve
1211 Genève 4
tél. 022 379 8280
fax 022 379 8293


Falter, Jean-Marc (2006), Equivalence scales and subjective data in Switzerland, Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, vol. 142, no. 2, pp. 263-284.

Falter, Jean-Marc (2007), Entrepreneurship and Intergenerational Links in Switzerland, LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, , vol. 21, no.1, pp. 121-134.

Falter J.-M. (2005). Child poverty in Switzerland. Abstract University of Geneva

Ferro Luzzi G., Flückiger Y., Weber S. (2005), Multimensional Poverty and Cluster Analysis: An Illustration with Switzerland, Abstract

Falter J.-M. (2005), Entrepreneurship an d intergenerational Links in Switzerland, Abstract University of Geneva

Falter J.-M. (2005), Equivalence scales an subjective data in Switzerland, Abstract University of Geneva

Falter J.-M. (2005) Educational attainment in Switzerland: the role of abservable and non-obsorvable family factors, Abstract University of Geneva


  Flückiger Poster
Flückiger_poster.pdf (90KB)
13.07.2005    Download >
  Interview mit Jean-Marc Falter
Falter_d.pdf (252KB)
13.07.2005    Download >
  NFP52 Tagung, 19. Januar 2006
nfp52_Bern06_Flueckiger.pdf (343KB)
30.01.2006    Download >
  Summary Projekt Flückiger
Flückiger_Summary.pdf (94KB)
11.04.2006    Download >
NFP52_falter_childpoverty.pdf (152KB)
15.05.2006    Download >
NFP52_falter_multidimen.pdf (280KB)
15.05.2006    Download >
NFP52_falter_scales.pdf (157KB)
15.05.2006    Download >
NFP52_falter_self_empl.pdf (108KB)
15.05.2006    Download >
NFP52_falter_twins.pdf (117KB)
15.05.2006    Download >


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