Middle-aged perform most unpaid welfare work
Health;Social conditions, welfare and crime
omsarb, Unpaid welfare work, survey on living conditions, care, voluntary workLiving conditions , Health services , Social conditions, welfare and crime, Health
One in six people regularly provide unpaid care to elderly, sick or disabled persons. The highest percentage giving such care is found in the age group 45–66 years, and most often they help their own parents.

Unpaid welfare work, survey on living conditions



Next update

Not yet determined

Key figures

15 %

provide unpaid care to elderly, sick or disabled persons

Unpaid welfare work for persons aged 16 years and older. Per cent
20152012 - 2015
Share of personsChange in percentage points
Belongs to houshold where someone needs care or supervision (per cent)60
Regularly gives unpaid help to person in need of care in own household (per cent)2-1
Regularly gives unpaid help to person in need of care outside own household (per cent)13-1
Regularly gives unpaid help, total15-1

About the statistics

The statistics cover the extent of unpaid care for the sick, elderly and disabled people in the population. It covers care work both in and outside their own household, the extent and type of care. The figures are obtained from the Living Conditions Survey on Health - EHIS.


Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Given help with buying groceries / cleaning / other practical help /care / supervision / assistance with home care services, last 4 weeks, to parents who need help: Percentage of persons with parents aged 67 or over who have given their parents assistance

Standard classifications


Persons are grouped by age at year-end for the completion of the main part of the interviews.

Area of residence

Persons are grouped according to sparsely populated areas or densely populated areas of different size. Sparsely populated areas include clusters of houses with less than 200 inhabitants. Densely populated areas include areas with 200 inhabitants or more, and a distance between houses – as a main rule – of not more than 50 metres.


The regions include the following counties:

Oslo and Akershus

Eastern Norway excluding Oslo and Akershus: Østfold, Vestfold, Hedmark, Oppland, Buskerud and Telemark

Agder and Rogaland: Aust-Agder, Vest-Agder and Rogaland

Western Norway: Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal

Trøndelag: Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag

Northern Norway: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.

Family cycle phase

Persons are grouped mainly by age, marital status, whether the person has children and children’s age. There is a distinction between singles and couples, where couples include both married couples and cohabitants. The term ‘single persons’ does not necessarily refer to persons living alone in the household. The groups with children consist of persons living with their own child(ren) (including stepchildren and adopted children) aged 0-19 years.

Economic status: This variable covers the person's own perception of the main activity on the date of interview. This differs from the ILO definition which has a predefined classification of economic status.

Working full time: Includes both employees and self-employed

Working part time: Includes both employees and self-employed


Student, pupil, further training, unpaid work experience: includes persons in vocational training and military service

In retirement

Permanently disabled or/and unfit to work

Fulfilling domestic tasks and care responsibilities


Highest level of attained education divided into three levels; basic, secondary and tertiary education.

Administrative information

Name and topic

Name: Unpaid welfare work, survey on living conditions
Topic: Health

Responsible division

Division for Social Welfare Statistics

Regional level

National, regional and residential area.

Frequency and timeliness

In 2015, the survey of health, care and social relations and living conditions was merged with the European Health Interview survey (EHIS). This will be conducted every 6 years. Since 1996, the surveys on living conditions have been conducted annually with varying survey topics. Health, care and social relations were topics in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2012, and again in 2015.

International reporting

Data for 2015 will be reported to Eurostat.


Data files with results from the interviews and statistical files with coded variables, linked information and weights are stored. Anonymised files are also available for researchers through the NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data. An adapted version of the data will be made available through Eurostat, starting from the 2015 data.


Background and purpose

The survey on living conditions has two main purposes. One is to shed light on the main aspects of living conditions in the Norwegian population. The other is to monitor the developments in living conditions, both in terms of levels and distribution.

Alongside the surveys on working conditions and EU-SILC, the survey of living conditions on health, care and social relations will cover the major areas of living conditions over a three-year period.

Six general surveys on living conditions were conducted from 1973 to 1995. These surveys shed light on respondents’ financial situations, housing conditions, leisure, social networks, health, education, employment and working conditions.

In 1996, a coordinated system of surveys was introduced. The system consisted of annual surveys with a set of rotating topics and an annual panel survey. Working environment was the theme in 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009. Housing, leisure activities and victims of crime were themes in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007. Health, care and social relations were themes in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008. The annual panel survey covered important main topics.

A new system of surveys of living conditions was introduced in 2011. A key objective of the new system was to improve the harmonisation with international requirements connected to EU-SILC. To a large degree, the new system covers earlier topics, in addition to new themes that illuminate political participation, social networks and financial and social problems.

Since 2011, Statistics Norway’s regular surveys on living conditions have included the annual Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC, a survey of working environment that is conducted every three years (most recently in 2013), and a survey of health, care and social relations. The survey on health, care and social relations was conducted in 2012 and 2015.

In 2015, the survey of living conditions on health, care and social relations was merged with the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), developed by Eurostat. European data will be available from 2017.

Users and applications

The main users are government ministries, directorates, and research communities in the areas of working environment, health care, housing, leisure and local environment and living conditions in general.

Data from the survey is also widely used by the media and the general public.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08:00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

Information on wealth and income is retrieved from registry data. Furthermore, data on some demographic variables and data on education and social benefits are provided from registers.

Legal authority

Voluntary survey.

EEA reference

EU regulation 1338/2008 and implementation regulation 141/2013



The population is residents aged 16 years and over not living in institutions.

Data sources and sampling

Data sources are interview data from representative sample surveys and various associated registries. The gross sample for the survey on health, care and social relations has previously comprised approximately 10 000 individuals. In 2015, the gross sample included 14 000 persons.

All samples up to the end of 2012 were drawn according to Statistics Norway's general sampling plan, which is described in the publication "Levekårsundersøkelsen om helse, omsorg og sosial kontakt 2012". The 2015 survey was drawn as a stratified sample, using county as a stratification variable. A total of 700 individuals were drawn in all counties except Oslo, where 1 400 persons were drawn. The final figures are weighted in order to correct for varying sampling probability in the counties, and for non-response.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Data collection is mainly done by telephone (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview CATI) and in some cases the interviewer visits the interviewee (Computer Assisted Personal Interview CAPI). Data collection for the Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC occurs mainly from January to May in the year of interview.

The interview takes place using a computer-based questionnaire. The questionnaire includes various controls to prevent incorrect answers or registration errors during the interview. In some cases, the interviewer receives warnings for the registered response. In other cases, there is a limit on values that cannot be exceeded. Moreover, it verifies that only valid codes are recorded.

Respondents are not replaced in the event of non-eligibility or non-response.

Surveys that collect information on industry and occupation are encoded by Statistics Norway. Information on respondents’ diseases, impairments and injuries is coded according to the ICD classification.

The sample consists of people. The analysis unit is primarily a person, but can in some cases be a household. Using the household as the unit of analysis requires the use of weights.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


Statistics Norway has guidelines for merging data from different data sources (registers) for statistical purposes. The guidelines are based on Statistics Norway's authorisation given by The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, and the Statistics Act. According to these guidelines, responses given in surveys can only be used for the purpose of producing statistics, i.e. information concerning groups of people will be given, but not for individuals. When survey data files are linked to registers, encryption techniques are used in order to ensure that persons cannot be identified from the survey or register information in the merged data file.

Comparability over time and space

The survey on living conditions (SLC) on health, care and social relations (Health interview survey) is more or less a continuation of the national health surveys. The first health survey was conducted in 1968, and then every ten years, 1975, 1985, 1995. Some time series can also be traced back to the general living condition surveys 1980-1995.

The SLC on care and social contact is based primarily on the general living conditions surveys, and multiple time series can be traced back to 1980.

Results from the years 2002,  2012 and 2015 are available in Statbank. Breaches in the time series are commented in footnotes to the tables.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Erratic responses can occur both in total counts and sample surveys. Errors may arise in the collection process as well as in the data revision process. Computers are used in the collection of data in the surveys on living conditions. The interviewer reads the questions from the screen, and registers the answers directly into the data program. An important benefit of using PC-based registering is the pre-programmed skipping of questions that is employed in order to avoid asking respondents questions that do not relate to them.

PC-assisted interviewing gives the opportunity to monitor response consistency between the different questions directly. For every question, a range of proper values is defined. In addition, error messages are programmed to alert the interviewer when values are entered that not are consistent with previous responses. In this way, we avoid entering invalid input and we reduce the non-response rate for certain questions by skipping questions that should not be asked.

Errors may also occur when respondents give wrong answers. One reason is that it is hard for the respondent to remember circumstances far back in time. Questions may also be misunderstood. When questions relate to issues people find hard to respond to, we must expect to receive some erratic responses. Data collection errors may also result from questions that respondents find sensitive. In such cases, respondents may intentionally reply incorrectly. Responses may also be influenced by what the respondent considers socially desirable.

Processing errors are discrepancies between the values registered and the values reported. Such errors may occur for instance during coding. Such errors are reduced through testing.

When all errors have been corrected to the greatest degree possible, experience shows that statistical outcomes generally are scarcely affected by collection and processing errors. However, the effect of such errors may be significant in some cases, and every error will not necessarily be detected.

The response rate in the survey on living conditions on health, care and social relations has fluctuated between 73 per cent (1998), 67 per cent (2008), 58 per cent (2012) and 59 per cent (2015).

The gross sample for the survey is drawn in order to reflect the whole population, however, because non-response is not equally distributed, the net sample will not be fully representative. This bias will vary for the relevant groups and variables. In order to adjust for some of the biases, the data is weighted for gender, age, education and family size.

Uncertainty of data based on only a part of the population is often called sampling variance. The standard deviation is a measure of this uncertainty. The size of the standard deviation partly depends on the number of observations in the sample, and on the distribution of a variable in the whole population.

Statistics Norway has not made exact calculations of standard deviation of the data. However, in table 1, the approximate size of the standard deviation is given for a selection of observed percentages.

To illustrate the uncertainty associated with a percentage, we can use an interval to give the level of the true value of an estimated quantity (the value obtained if making an observation on the whole population instead of an observation based on part of the population). Such intervals are called confidence intervals if constructed in a special way. In this connection, the following method can be applied: let M be the estimated quantity, and S the estimate of standard deviation of M. The confidence interval will be an interval with limits (M - 2*S) and (M + 2*S). This method will give an interval containing the true value, with approximately 95 per cent probability.

The following example illustrates the use of table 1 for finding confidence intervals: The estimate of standard deviation of 70 per cent is 3.2 when the estimate is based on 300 observations. The confidence interval for the true value has limits 70 ± 2*3.2, which means the interval is from 63.6 to 76.4 per cent. This example refers to the samples before and including the 2012 survey.

Table 1. Standard deviation in per cent


Not relevant