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Switzerland: Child Allowance

(Feb. 2, 2008) On January 22, 2008, Switzerland promulgated the Federal Act on Family Allowances (AMTLICHE SAMMLUNG 131 (2008)). This law increases the paid allowances for children to a minimum of 200 Swiss Francs (about US$181) in all the cantons, and it introduces an educational allowance of at least 250 Swiss Francs (about US$226) per month. The child allowance is payable from birth until age 16 and the educational allowance from age 16 until 25, for as long as the young person is enrolled in an educational or training program. The law will become effective on January 1, 2009, to give the cantons time to adjust their laws to the new requirements.

The family allowances are aimed at helping families defray the cost of raising children. The unemployed who are not personally wealthy, farmers, and the self-employed are entitled to the benefits. For the employed, the costs are born by the employers; for the unemployed, by the cantons; and for farmers, federal subsidies are granted. The benefits are paid through funds that are administered at the cantonal level. The cantons also have the power to impose taxes to finance the system, and they may increase the benefits beyond the statutory minimum.