Social Reproduction of Swiss MPs

Andrea Pilotti & Julie Falcon (University of Lausanne)

Recent research found that the democratisation of the recruitment of Members of the Parliament (MPs) has remained rather limited in terms of social origin and educational background. However, this observation has not yet been related to the whole population. Yet, as the social structure underwent an upward shift as a consequence of educational expansion, tertiarisation and feminization, we can wonder to what extent there has been an increasing convergence between the profile of MPs with that of the whole population in Switzerland over recent years. Furthermore, no research has so far analysed (1) trends in the strength of association between social origin and educational attainment, and (2) those between educational attainment and the occupation of the Swiss MPs as compared to the Swiss population. Thus, we aim to fill this gap in order to assess whether the recruitment of the Swiss MPs has become increasingly meritocratic.


Statistical analysis will be undertaken using 4 points of time of the “Elites dataset” that contains historical information about Swiss MPs: 1980, 2000, 2010, 2016. This dataset will be compared to the Swiss population using a tailor made dataset that combines 12 surveys collected between 1975 and 2009. This dataset not only has the advantage to contain social origin information, but it also enables us to reconstruct historical trends of the Swiss social structure through its division into birth-cohorts. Of course, inherent methodological limits of comparability between these two heterogeneous data sources will be discussed accordingly.

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