Meeting with friends and family

  •  20/11/2019

In 2016, 67,8% of the Belgian population aged 15 and over reported to meet at least once a week friends, relatives or colleagues. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must not be reduced.

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Meeting with friends and family - Belgium and international comparison

persons reporting having social contacts at least once a week

percentage of population aged 15 years and over

 200220042006200820102012201420162016//20022016//2010
Belgium67.771.168.969.070.765.268.067.80.0-0.7
Germany59.952.556.156.360.258.055.459.50.0-0.2
France66.667.066.267.865.367.265.269.80.31.1
Netherlands67.771.168.969.070.765.268.067.80.0-0.7
//: Average Growth Rates

Calculations FPB based on ESS (2019), Dataset European Social Survey, http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/ (consulted on 07/11/2019).

Meeting with friends and family by seks - Belgium

persons reporting having social contacts at least once a week

percentage of population aged 15 years and over

 200220042006200820102012201420162016//20022016//2010
females67.871.369.467.470.266.367.869.00.1-0.3
males67.670.968.370.771.363.968.266.6-0.1-1.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Calculations FPB based on ESS (2019), Dataset European Social Survey, http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/ (consulted on 07/11/2019).

Meeting with friends and family by income - Belgium

persons reporting having social contacts at least once a week

percentage of population aged 15 years and over

 20102012201420162016//2010
quintile 165.266.266.864.9-0.1
quintile 271.264.064.962.2-2.2
quintile 367.963.665.862.4-1.4
quintile 470.067.767.173.20.7
quintile 574.564.566.077.50.7
//: Average Growth Rates

Calculations FPB based on ESS (2019), Dataset European Social Survey, http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/ (consulted on 07/11/2019).

Definition: social contacts are defined by the result of the European Social Survey (ESS) and more particularly by the answer "at least once a week" to the question of how often "you meet friends, family or colleagues" for social reasons (i.e. neither for work nor for pure obligation, but because the survey respondents choose to meet friends, family or colleagues; this corresponds to the original European questionnaire in English and the questionnaire in Dutch. In the French-speaking questionnaire it is only mentioned "outside work"). This question was systematically asked in the eight biennial SSE surveys. The indicator is calculated by the FPB on the basis of data from ESS. Since these data are collected from surveys, a margin of uncertainty must be considered. The confidence intervals corresponding to these data are available on request from the Federal Planning Bureau.

Objective: The proportion of people reporting social contacts at least once a week cannot decrease.

The sustainable development goals or SDSs adopted by the United Nations in 2015 include the following objective: "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels" (objective 16). Social support, or having family and friends, is an important contribution to peaceful and open societies.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development includes as a first challenge “A society that promotes social cohesion” (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013). To contribute to this social cohesion it is considered that there is an implicit objective that the proportion of respondents reporting having social contacts at least once a week, as a measure of social capital, cannot decrease.

International comparison: compared to neighbouring countries, more people in Belgium (67.8%) report having social contacts at least once a week than in Germany (59.5%), but less than in the Netherlands (79.0%). In France (69.8%) an equivalent number of people report having social contacts at least once a week. These proportions are broadly the same over the eight editions of the SSE. Given the subjective nature of this indicator, comparisons between countries should be interpreted with caution.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to objective 16. Social support, or having family and friends, is an important contribution to peaceful and open societies.

This indicator is used to calculate the Social Capital composite indicator, published in the Complementary Indicators to GDP report.