Most older people still socially active

27/04/2010 15:00

Generally, the participation rate among over-55s in social activities is relatively high, but the contact rate with friends and acquaintances for over-75s is below average. They also less frequently do volunteer work or provide informal help.

Contacts with friends and acquaintances become less frequent with advancing age

In 2008, 85 to 90 percent of people in all age categories once a week had contact with relatives either face-to-face, or by phone, e-mail, etc. The contact rate of people over the age of 55 with friends and relatives was below average. Seven in ten older people had contact with friends on a weekly basis versus an average of eight in ten. The proportion who rarely or never had contact with friends and relatives increased with age to 14 percent of over-75s.

Contacts with friends and acquaintances by age, 2008

Contacts with friends and acquaintances by age, 2008

Older people more often active in volunteer work

In 2008, more than 40 percent of over-55s was active in volunteer work. Older people relatively often do volunteer work in care and for religious or ideological organisations. They also tend to be more active in hobby clubs and cultural associations. Among over-75s, the share of volunteer workers was evidently lower: 24 percent of them were active in volunteer work.

Proportion doing volunteer work or providing informal help by age, 2008

Proportion doing volunteer work or providing informal help by age, 2008

Older people more often provide informal help

People in the age category 55-75 relatively often provided informal help beyond organisational settings. In 2008, 40 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds and 35 percent van de 65 to 75-year-olds provided informal help. With 30 percent, the average across all age categories was significantly lower.

People older than 75 far less often provided informal care. With 16 percent, the proportion of providers of informal help above the age of 75 was far below average.

Moniek Coumans and Saskia te Riele