Social contacts


Statistics Flanders-survey (SV-survey), Statistics Flanders


The frequency of social contacts is monitored in the SV-survey via 3 questions:

• How often do you meet non-resident family?

• How often do you meet friends or acquaintances?

• How often do you meet neighbours?

The answer options are always:

- never

- less than once a month

- 1 or 2 times a month

- 1 or 2 times a week

- daily or almost daily

- don't know/no answer

Persons who do not tick any of the above answers (or multiple answers at the same time) are not included in the calculation of the results. In the spring 2021 edition, this concerned for the question about contacts with family involved 83 people, for the question about contacts with friends or acquaintances 111 people, and for the question about contacts with neighbors 118 people.  

The data can be broken down by gender, age, household position and education level, among other things. The education level concerns the following groups:

• low education: people without a diploma or at most a lower secondary education diploma

• medium education: persons with at most a diploma of higher secondary education or with a diploma of post-secondary non-higher education

• highly education: persons with a higher or university degree.

Based on the respondents' place of residence, the data can be classified by province and degree of urbanization. The degree of urbanization is divided into 6 groups of municipalities: large cities, central cities, urban periphery, smaller cities, transitional area and rural area. This division is based on the Spatial Structure Plan for Flanders, in which, on the one hand, a few categories have been combined into 'smaller cities' and, on the other hand, the outlying area has been divided into 'transitional area' and 'rural area' on the basis of the Strategic Plan for Spatial Economy.

In the results for background characteristics, percentages are presented for the persons with at least weekly contact. These are the people who tick the answer categories 'once or twice a week' or 'daily or almost daily'.

Remarks on quality

The data presented are estimates based on the results of the Statistics Flanders survey (SV-survey). This is a survey that is conducted a number of times a year among residents of 18 years and older in the Flemish Region. The survey examines the views, beliefs and behavior of the population with regard to social and policy-relevant themes.

For each survey, 6,000 people are randomly selected from the National Register. The SV-survey is a so-called 'mixed mode' query. This means that the respondents can fill in the questionnaire in different ways. The selected persons are first invited by letter to complete the survey online. The questionnaire is designed in such a way that it is easy to complete via a smartphone (mobile first design). Those who do not participate online will receive a written questionnaire in the mail. The combination of an online and paper questionnaire ensures that people who have no or insufficient digital access are also included in the survey.

The results presented here are based on the first edition of the SV-survey, which was conducted between the end of January and the end of March 2021. Ultimately, 2,625 people took part in this edition. Compared to the initial sample of 6,000 people, this corresponds to a response rate of 43.8%.

Because of the unavoidable differences in the response to background characteristics, the final sample is weighted for the calculation of the results. This means that the underrepresented groups are given more weight, while the groups that are overrepresented are given less weight. In this way, the relationships between the different target groups in the final sample are restored and brought into line with the sampling frame. In this way a representative sample for the intended target population is obtained. The following 5 background characteristics are taken into account in the weighting of the SV-survey: gender, age, education level, nationality (Belgian/non-Belgian) and degree of urbanization.

An uncertainty margin must be taken into account when interpreting the results of the SV- survey. This margin of uncertainty is greater the smaller the sample on which the figures are calculated.

Due to the changed method, the results of the SV-survey are not comparable with the results of the Survey 'Social-cultural shifts in Flanders' (SCV-survey), which was conducted annually by Statistics Flanders from 1996 to 2018. The SV-survey was a 'mixed mode' survey (online and on paper), the SCV-survey was a 'face-to-face' survey (with interviewers at home).

Since this is the first edition of the SV-survey, it is not yet possible to display a time series when presenting the results. However, differences in background characteristics can be identified, such as gender, age, household position, education level, province and degree of urbanization. The Cramer's V test is used to assess whether there is a statistically significant difference between the scores of the different groups within a certain background characteristic (for example, between men and women). If the associated p-value is less than 0.050, the relationship is considered significant. This is indicated in the figures by giving the bars a blue color.


Statistics Flanders: SV survey


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