Half of Dutch youth engage in volunteering

Slightly over half of Dutch young people between the ages of 15 and 24 occasionally do volunteer work. More than half are also active in associations. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on new figures from a survey on social cohesion and well-being, which was conducted among 45 thousand persons aged 15 and up in the period from 2012 up to and including 2017.

Social contacts / socially active, 2012 - 2017 (%)
 15 to 24 yrs25 yrs or older
Contact with friends95.973.7
Contact with family79.284.1
Active in associations55.642.0
Volunteer work51.148.7
Contact with neighbours50.064.1
Informal help29.934.3

To what extent do young people participate in society? Methods used by CBS to determine this include participation at two different levels: social contacts and societal activities. The survey shows that over half of all 15 to 24-year-olds (51 percent) engage in societal activities as a volunteer at least once a year, with equal shares among young men and women. Overall, there are relatively more young people than adults who do volunteer work (49 percent).

At 56 percent, a clear majority of the youth are active in associations. More young men than women participate in associations, at 60 and 51 percent respectively. In all other age groups, a minority are active in associations.

Youngest group most active as volunteers

Teenagers between the ages of 15 to 17 are overrepresented in volunteer work: just under 60 percent volunteer for an organisation at least once a year. In other age groups, this percentage stands at 49 percent (18 to 21-year-olds) and 47 percent (22 to 24-year-olds).

Being active in an association clearly declines as youngsters grow up. While 64 percent of 15 to 17-year-olds still take part in activities at least once a month, this percentage is lower among 18 to 21-year-olds and 22 to 24-year-olds.

Social contacts / socially active, young people, 2012 - 2017 (%)
 15 to 17 yrs18 to 21 yrs22 to 24 yrs
Contact with friends98.096.393.4
Contact with family75.377.585.0
Active in associations63.655.448.6
Volunteer work59.048.746.8
Contact with neighbours55.349.545.8
Informal help26.631.231.3

Close contact with friends, less close with neighbours

Almost all 15 to 24-year-olds (96 percent) are in contact with a friend or acquaintance at least once a week. Furthermore, 79 percent have weekly contact with a family member outside their own household and half say they have weekly contact with their neighbours. Three in ten young people provide help to people outside their households at least once every four weeks.

Young women are less likely than young men to have weekly contact with a family member, but there is no difference in terms of contact with friends and neighbours. However, there are relatively more young women who provide help than young men.

Social contacts among the three youngest age groups

Between the youngest age groups, there is a difference in the level of social participation. On the one hand, contact with family members increases as the age group is older: 75 percent of 15 to 17-year-olds, 77 percent of 18 to 21-year-olds, and 85 percent of 22 to 24-year-olds. On the other hand, there is a slight decline in contact with friends as young people age: 98, 96 and 93 percent respectively.

At 55 percent, there is only a majority in the youngest age group (15 to 17 years) who speak with their neighbours on a weekly basis. This is 49 percent in the group 18 to 21 years and 46 percent among 22 to 24-year-olds. At over one-quarter, the youngest of the three age groups provide less informal help than both other age groups.