Shares in %
2021 expenditure by task area
Shares in %
Social welfare accounted for 34.2% of total expenditure. This expenditure is bound by law and therefore barely controllable in the medium term. Old-age and survivors' insurance accounts for more than 40%. Other key areas include the Confederation's contribution to unemployment insurance and disability insurance, and individual premium reductions. Expenditure growth depends largely on demographic developments, as well as inflation and salary trends.
Finances and taxes accounted for 13.2% of total expenditure. Expenditure growth in this area is largely specified and can be influenced only in the long term. The shares of federal receipts, for example, are set out in the Constitution and depend directly on the amount of receipts. Interest expenditure is determined by debt and the development of interest rates.
Transportation accounted for 12.2% of total expenditure. It includes expenditure on rail and public transportation (64%), road transportation (32%) and aviation (4%). Transportation expenditure is financed primarily by earmarked tax receipts and is thus largely restricted. Most of this is channeled into the railway infrastructure fund (RIF) and the motorway and urban transportation fund, through which the operation, maintenance and extension of the transportation infrastructure are steered.
This task area's share of total expenditure fell from 9.3% to 8.5% year on year. Non-association to EU research programs caused expenditure to be 7.5% lower than in 2020. The education and research task area is a priority for the Confederation, and 89% of it is steered by guarantee credits and payment frameworks requested with the 2021-2024 ERI dispatch.
Security accounted for 6.7% of total expenditure. More than 80% of security expenditure is attributable to military national defense, which was determined by the 2021-2024 Armed Forces payment framework, requested in the 2020 Armed Forces dispatch. The task area includes the tasks "military national defense", "civil protection and civilian service", "police, prison system and intelligence" and "border controls".
The agriculture and food task area accounted for around 4.1% of total expenditure. Most of this expenditure is controlled by means of three payment frameworks. Parliament set the payment frameworks for the implementation of the 2018-2021 agricultural policy as follows: direct payments 11.25 billion, production and sales 2.0 billion, fundamental improvements and social measures 0.6 billion. The 2018-2021 payment frameworks were almost fully utilized.
The international relations task area accounted for 4.3% of total expenditure. Just under 80% of its expenditure goes to development cooperation. Most of the remainder is attributable to political relations, i.e. Swiss diplomatic and consular representations and expenditure for international organizations.
The five remaining task areas (institutional and financial conditions, culture and leisure, health, protection of the environment and spatial planning, economic relations) accounted for 16.7% of expenditure.
Development of selected 2021 expenditure items by task area
in CHF mn and %
Federal expenditure climbed by almost 0.5 billion to 88.3 billion (+0.5%) relative to the previous year. Expenditure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic amounted to 14 billion, which was around 0.9 billion less than a year earlier. The largest coronavirus-related expenditure items were again recognized as extraordinary payment requirements (12.3 bn). They included expenditure for short-time working compensation (4.3 bn), hardship measures for businesses (4.2 bn) and COVID-19 loss of earnings compensation (1.8 bn). Expenditure for COVID-19 tests rose to 1.2 billion (2020: 0.2 bn), and subsequent payments are still expected for 2021 (provision of 1.3 bn for expenditure expected in 2022).
Even excluding the COVID-19 measures, expenditure grew significantly year on year (+1.4 bn, or 1.9%). This resulted primarily from higher third parties' shares of federal receipts caused by higher receipts (+1.3 bn).
Social welfare expenditure was 6 billion lower than a year earlier (-16.7%). The reduction in short-time working led to lower short-time working compensation (-6.4 bn). Excluding short-time working compensation (4.3 bn) and COVID-19 loss of earnings compensation (1.8 bn), ordinary expenditure grew by 3.2% (+741 mn). The strongest growth was seen in the case of old-age and survivors' insurance. On the one hand, the Confederation's AHV contribution rose because of the growing number of pensioners and the increase in old-age pensions (+209 mn). On the other hand, there was a rise in the percentage of value added tax for AHV (+183 mn) due to the higher VAT receipts. The positive development of value added tax additionally led to higher federal payments to disability insurance (+226 mn).
Expenditure on international relations remained at the previous year's level (-0.5%, or -20 mn). Pandemic-related expenditure in the area of development assistance (345.5 mn) stayed at the prior-year level. The year-on-year decline in expenditure in the area of economic relations (-31 mn) was due to the fact that the payments for the first EU enlargement contribution are coming to an end, while the funds for the second enlargement contribution have not yet been paid out, as the bilateral agreements governing implementation have not yet been concluded.
Transportation expenditure posted a year-on-year increase of 6.8% (+689 mn). Expenditure grew in all areas, with the biggest increase seen in public transportation. The main driver was the higher deposit in the railway infrastructure fund (+223 mn). More was likewise spent on subsidies for regional passenger transportation (+125 mn), and around two thirds of this was coronavirus-related. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial assistance was also provided for rail freight services (88 mn), and Skyguide received support of 250 million (+100 mn relative to 2020). Road transportation expenditure was up by 145 million year on year, especially because of the deposit in the motorway and urban transportation fund.
Education and research expenditure was down 7.5% (-609 mn) on 2020 because of non-association to EU research programs. The national transitional measures launched toward year-end accounted for only a fraction of the funds intended for Horizon Europe. Non-association led to lower expenditure particularly in the areas of applied research (-392 mn) and basic research (-211 mn). Expenditure in the area of tertiary-level institutions likewise decreased by 75 million, due largely to lower project-linked contributions.
Agriculture and food expenditure remained at the previous year's level (-0.0%, or -2 mn). Direct payments (2.8 bn) accounted for three quarters of agriculture expenditure and remained unchanged year on year. The increase in expenditure on fundamental improvements and social measures (+3 mn) was driven mainly by higher expenditure on structural improvements and agricultural consultancy. The decrease in expenditure in the area of production and sales (-7 mn) was due to the previous year's market relief measures in the areas of crop production and sales promotion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other expenditure was up by 2 million.
Security expenditure fell by 7.7% (-494 mn). Military national defense expenditure, which accounts for 83% of the security task area, was down by 390 million, due primarily to project-related delays in the armament sector (-338 mn). There was also a sharp drop in expenditure on border controls (-68 mn). This was attributable mainly to a one-time payment in 2020 (increase in the retirement age for Border Guard members: one-time credit of 43 mn). Similarly, the expenditure for civil protection and civilian service (-14 mn) and police, prison system and intelligence (-19 mn) was lower than a year earlier. In both cases, this was mainly due to project delays.
Finances and taxes expenditure surged by 10.9% (+1.1 bn). Third parties' shares of federal receipts increased by 1.3 billion on the back of the cantons' higher shares of direct federal tax (+329 mn) and withholding tax (+662 mn). The cantons' share of withholding tax was calculated before the provision for future refunds and was thus higher than a year earlier despite lower net withholding tax revenue. In addition, there was a special factor in the form of the refund of VAT on radio and television reception fees (+186 mn). Debt interest expenditure continued to decline thanks to the persistently low level of interest rates (-131 mn). Fiscal equalization expenditure was higher than the previous year (+19 mn).
Development of 2021 expenditure
in CHF bn and % of GDP
Total expenditure grew by 0.5% (+0.5 bn) in 2021. As nominal GDP grew by 5.1%, the expenditure ratio fell to 11.9% (2020: 12.4%). The expenditure ratio is a rough indicator of the extent of Confederation's activities relative to the overall economy. Excluding the coronavirus-related measures (14 bn), expenditure for ordinary government activities increased by 1.4 billion, especially because the cantons' shares of direct federal tax and withholding tax were higher.
Detailed data for longer periods are available under the following links:
Last modification 30.03.2022