The number of people receiving welfare benefits in Switzerland rose slightly in 2006 but overall rates remained stable, the Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday.
Government figures indicate that more than 245,000 people, or 3.3 per cent of the population (3.2 per cent in 2005), received financial assistance that year.
The rate stagnated or declined slightly in many cantons.
The statistics office said that the improved economy and job prospects had had an impact on welfare.
But it added that cantons with higher unemployment also had a higher than average number of people drawing benefits.
Overall, those most likely to receive welfare were children and teenagers up to age 17. Almost five per cent of this population group relied on subsidies.
Foreign residents, single parents and people without professional training also relied disproportionately on welfare compared with most Swiss citizens.
Generally fewer people draw benefits as they approach retirement age.
In compliance with the JTI standards