Switzerland

According to the report on Childhood and Youth Policy in Switzerland (2016), child and youth policy is characterised by the distribution of tasks between the confederation, cantons, and municipalities, with the confederation playing only a supporting role. At the confederation level the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS) is the main body responsible for the child and youth sector, dealing with children’s rights, protection of children and young people, extracurricular activities, and child and youth policy.

Published on October 25, 2023
Updated on February 20, 2024

Definition of youth

Several definitions of youth exist in Switzerland. The Child and Youth Promotion Act (2011) targets children and young people from kindergarten age up to the age of 25. According to For a Swiss Child and Youth Policy (2008),

"Traditionally, measures for the protection of children and young people target the age group 0 to 18 years, while those intended for the encouragement of young people focus on those aged 16 to 25."

Definition 1
0 - 25 years
Definition 2

Voting Rights

Majority age
18 years
Voting age
18 years
Criminal responsibility
15 years

Candidacy age

Lower House
18 years
Upper House
--- (cantonal law)
President
--- (tbc)

Marriage & Gender

Without parental consent
Female
18 years
Male
18 years
With parental consent
Female
18 years
Male
18 years

Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA

Is same-sex marriage legalized?
Female
Yes
Male
Yes

Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA

Are other genders recognised?
Yes
self-determination model

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Yes

The purpose of the Child and Youth Promotion Act (2011) is to ensure that youth and children are encouraged in their physical and mental well-being and are able to develop into people who take responsibility for themselves and integrate socially, culturally and politically in their community.

According to the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS), the report For a Swiss Child and Youth Policy (2008) "forms the basis of current and future policy in this area." It proposes three main measures to promote and develop child and youth policy at the federal level, while still maintaining that this area is the responsibility of the cantons and municipalities:

  • Revise the law on youth activities;
  • Strengthen horizontal coordination at the federal level;
  • Provide funding and staff.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth?
Yes

According to the report on Childhood and Youth Policy in Switzerland (2016), child and youth policy is characterised by the distribution of tasks between the confederation, cantons, and municipalities, with the confederation playing only a supporting role. At the confederation level the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS) is the main body responsible for the child and youth sector, dealing with children's rights, protection of children and young people, extracurricular activities, and child and youth policy. However, most cantons also have their own dedicated youth sectors. Because so many actors are responsible for child and youth policy at various levels, the Platform for Swiss Child and Youth Policy was created to facilitate the collaboration between these entities, promote the exchange of information regarding youth, and to document the state of youth policy at the different levels.

Youth & Representation

Does the country have a national youth organization or association?
Yes

The Swiss National Youth Council (SNYC) is an umbrella organisation in Switzerland for more than 60 youth organisations. SNYC aims to "act as a voice for the interests of Swiss youth on a political and public level." The council also works closely with the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS) and is involved in the development of youth policy. It coordinates several projects under three priority themes, namely (1) committed youth, (2) our future, and (3) inclusion of all.

Youth work

Is youth work a formally recognised profession?
Yes

While there is no formal definition, law or policy pertaining to youth work at the federal level in Switzerland, according to The Swiss Society for Social Work(SSFSW) there are various professional qualifications and certifications available to individuals who work with youth, such as youth leaders, social educators, and youth workers.

Furthermore, SSFSW offers a range of professional certifications and training programs for individuals interested in working with young people. These certifications and programmes provide education and training in various areas, including child and youth development, communication, group dynamics, and youth work ethics.

Additionally, there are several universities and colleges in Switzerland that offer degree programs in social work, social pedagogy, and related fields. These programmes provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to work with youth in various contexts, including schools, community centres, and youth organizations.

Budget & Spending

Does the national youth policy have a dedicated budget?
Yes

According to the Swiss government'sbudget report for 2021, the budget for youth policy in Switzerland was CHF 546 million (USD 595 million) for the year 2021, of which CHF 1.9 million (USD 2.2 million) was specifically allocated to the Federal Social Insurance Office (OFAS). The budget included funding for various programmes and initiatives aimed at supporting young people, including:

  1. Youth employment programmes designed to help young people find employment, such as job training programmes, apprenticeships, and career guidance services.

  2. Education and training to support the development of young people and to prepare them for future careers.

  3. Youth leisure activities, such as sports clubs, music programmes, and cultural events, to promote the social and cultural development of young people.

  4. Youth health and well-being to promote the physical and mental health of young people, including counseling services, health education programs, and initiatives to prevent drug use and addiction.

Contextual Figures

Liberal Democracy Index
898
Youth Progress Index
90.22

Economic Indicators

GDP per capita
$91991.6
Human Development Index
0.962
Gini coefficient
33.1

Additional background

According to the Swiss government, Switzerland has a multi-party political system, with four major political parties: the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the Social Democratic Party (SP), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Christian Democratic People's Party (CVP). Each of these parties represents a different political ideology and has a significant base of support.

Young people in Switzerland have the right to vote and stand for election at the age of 18. Voter turnout among young people in Switzerland has been increasing in recent years, with many young people becoming more engaged in the political process.

One issue that is of particular concern to young people in Switzerland is the environment. Climate change is a growing concern among young Swiss people, and they are increasingly demanding that the government take action to address it. There have been several large-scale climate protests across the country, with young people leading the charge.

According to a 2020 publication by Ostschweizer Fachhochschue (OST), another issue that is of concern to young people in Switzerland is social justice. They are concerned about issues such as income inequality, access to education and healthcare, and the rights of marginalised groups. The Swiss government has made progress in addressing some of these issues by publishing an agenda of 17 Sustainable Development Goals until 2023, but there is still much work to be done.

Sources

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Updates

  • Update 22.06.2024: