Outdoor activities – active, but with gender disparities

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Norwegians are fond of outdoor activities. Eight in ten enjoy walking in the woods and hiking in the mountains. For both men and women, shorter walks and hiking are the most popular activities. However, a larger share of men go fishing, hunting and on boat trips than women, whilst women to a larger extent go berry-picking or mushroom-picking.

The Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC 2017 examines outdoor activities during the last twelve months within the Norwegian population. As in previous years, the most popular activities are short walks and short hikes in the woods and mountains. Eighty-four per cent of the population aged 16 and over report that they have been on a short walk, and 66 per cent have been on at least 25 short walks.

Norwegians are active in the outdoors…

Norwegians have a reputation for being fond of outdoor hikes. Eight in ten Norwegians have been on shorter trips in the forest or in the mountains, and five in ten have been on longer trips in the forest or in the mountains (see figure 1). It is also said that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. In 2017, 34 per cent of the population went on a shorter skiing trip in the forest or in the mountains, and 23 per cent have been on a longer skiing trip in the forest or in the mountains.

Figure 1. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Figure 1. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Per cent
Riding i the nature 4
On hunting 7
Skating 7
Been alpine skiing, snowboarding or telemark 21
On a longer trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 23
On a trip with canoe/kayak/rowboat 24
On a shorter trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 34
On cycle tour in the nature 35
On berry-picking or mushroom-picking 36
On fishing trip 42
On a trip in a motor boat or sailing-boat 42
On a longer trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 53
Bathing in sea or freshwater 66
On a shorter trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 78
On a shorter walk 84

…but not as active as before

Compared with previous years, there appears to be a decline in the proportion of the population that has been on a trip in the forest or in the mountains, with or without skis. In 2011, 42 per cent had been on a shorter skiing trip in the forest or in the mountains. The corresponding figure for 2017 is 34 per cent. For some of the outdoor activities, we have comparable data dating back to 1997. As shown in figure 2, there has been a small decline in the proportion that has been hunting, fishing, berry-picking or mushroom-picking, and bathing in the sea or freshwater in the period 2001-2017. While 42 per cent had been berry-picking or mushroom-picking in 2001, the corresponding figure in 2017 is 36 per cent. The proportion that has been on a shorter walk, however, has increased from 80 per cent in 2001 to 84 per cent in 2017. The decline in outdoor activities is small, and as shown in figure 2, there are variations from year to year. Since outdoor activities are affected by weather, year-to-year variation could just as well be a result of different weather conditions.

Figure 2

Figure 3. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months. Aged 16 years and above.  Period 2001-2017. Per cent

Skating is just as common among women as among men (7 per cent). However, this activity is the only activity in the survey where there are no gender disparities (see figure 3). Shorter walks, berry-picking, mushroom-picking and horse riding in nature are more popular among women than men. Four out of ten women have been berry-picking or mushroom-picking. The corresponding figure for men is three out of ten. On the other hand, a larger share of men go on trips in the forest or in the mountains than women, both with and without skis. Twenty-five per cent of men and 20 per cent of women have been on a longer skiing trip in the forest or in the mountains. Outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and boat trips are also more prevalent among men than women.

Figure 2. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months, by sex. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Figure 2. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months, by sex. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Males Females
Riding i the nature 2 6
Skating 7 7
On hunting 11 3
On a longer trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 25 20
Been alpine skiing, snowboarding or telemark 26 17
On berry-picking or mushroom-picking 30 41
On a shorter trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 35 32
On cycle tour in the nature 38 32
On a trip in a motor boat or sailing-boat 46 37
On fishing trip 52 32
On a longer trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 56 50
On a shorter trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 79 76
On a shorter walk 83 86

As in previous years, the activity level is lower for the older population than the younger within most of the mapped outdoor activities. There are however some exceptions. More of the elderly population has been on a shorter walk and berry or mushroom-picking than the younger population. Whilst 37 per cent of the elderly (67 years and above) had been berry or mushroom-picking, the corresponding share among the youngest group (16-24 years) was 24 per cent.

People’s choice of outdoor activity is partly based on where they live. Some activities are more common in the least populated areas, like berry and mushroom-picking, hunting and fishing. Half of those living in the most sparsely populated area have been on a fishing trip. The corresponding figure for those living in the most densely populated area is 37 per cent. Other activities, such as skiing in the forest or in the mountains or alpine skiing, snowboarding or Telemark skiing, are more popular in the densely populated areas.

Outdoor activities increase with education level

The degree of activity for most of the mapped outdoor activities increases with education level (see figure 4). Half of the population with a long tertiary education have gone on a short skiing trip. This applies to two out of ten with a lower secondary education. Seven out of ten people with a long tertiary education have been on a longer trip in the forest or in the mountains, compared to four out of ten with a lower secondary education. There is also a higher proportion that has been fishing, skating and bathing in the sea or freshwater among persons with a higher education compared to people with a lower secondary education.

Figure 4. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months, by education. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Figure 4. Outdoor activities during the last 12 months, by education. Aged 16 years and above. 2017
Below upper secondary level Upper secondary level Tertiary education, short Tertiary education, long
On a shorter walk 79 85 89 89
On a shorter trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 67 78 87 90
On a longer trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains 40 51 66 71
On fishing trip 39 43 43 44
On a shorter trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 20 30 49 55
Been alpine skiing, snowboarding or telemark 17 20 26 31
On a longer trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains 13 20 32 44

There is also a connection between self-defined economic status and outdoor activities. Employed persons and students are generally more active in outdoor activities than the unemployed. Sixty-four per cent of employed persons have been on a longer trip in the forest or in the mountains. The share among the unemployed is 39 per cent. Only 17 per cent of the unemployed have been on a shorter skiing trip in the forest or in the mountains. Among employed persons, the corresponding proportion is 42 per cent.

Break in time series in measurement of outdoor activities

Since 2011, some outdoor activities have been omitted and some questions have been changed slightly compared to the years 1997-2007. First and foremost, the duration of some activities has changed. Earlier we distinguished between day trips and overnight trips, whilst now we distinguish between short and long trips (over/under 3 hours). In addition to this, the collection method has changed. Previously, this data was obtained via the post, but since 2011 the survey data has been collected via telephone interviews (CATI).

The categories that can be compared with the previous surveys of living conditions are:

Been berry or mushroom-picking last 12 months

Been on a hunting trip last 12 months

Been fishing the last 12 months

Been horse riding in a natural setting the last 12 months

Been skating last 12 months

Been alpine skiing, snowboarding or Telemark skiing last 12 months

Bathed in salt or fresh water the last 12 months

Been on a short walk the last 12 months

 

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