Social relations, survey on level of living

Updated: 1 July 2020

Next update: Not yet determined

The population have two or fewer people to rely on in case of personal problems
The population have two or fewer people to rely on in case of personal problems
Social contact among persons aged 16 years and older. 2019. Per cent
Social contact among persons aged 16 years and older. 2019. Per cent
Little contact with friends9
Lacking someone to confide in3
Proportion with 2 or fewer friends to count on, should personal problems arise17
Live alone25
Others show little or no interest in what you do3
Explanation of symbols

About the statistics

The statistics cover social contact with family, friends and neighbors for different groups in the population. Both the frequency of contact and the quality of social relations are covered in the statistics. The figures are obtained from the Survey on Living Conditions on Health, EHIS.

The information under «About the statistics» was last updated 16 August 2022.

Little contact with parents: Persons whose parents are alive, who report that they see their parents less frequently than every month

Little contact with siblings: Persons with siblings, who report that they see their siblings less frequently than every month

Little contact with their own children: Persons who have children above the age of 15 who have left home and who see these less frequently than every month

Little contact with friends: Persons without close friends or who see their friends less frequently than every month

Little contact with parents via phone, e-mail, internet, etc.: Persons whose parents are alive, who report having contact with their parents by phone, e-mail, internet or suchlike less frequently than every month

Little contact with their own children via phone, email, internet, etc: Persons who have children above the age of 15 who have left home and who say they are in touch with their children via phone, email, internet or such less frequently than every month

Little contact with friends via phone, email, internet, etc.: Persons without good friends or who say they are in touch with their friends via phone, e-mail, internet or such less frequently than every month


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: 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

Name: Social relations, survey on level of living
Topic: Social conditions, welfare and crime

Not yet determined

Division for Income and social welfare statistics

National, regional and residential area.

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, 2015, and again in 2019.

Data for 2019 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. Starting from 2015, an adapted version of the data will be made available through Eurostat.


The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC will give insight into the main aspects of and differences in living conditions, and follow their development over time. The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC will over a 3-year period be able to cover the major aspects of living conditions in the Norwegian population (when including the separate surveys of working conditions and health care and social contact as described in the section “Frequency and timeliness”).


The first surveys of living conditions in Norway were conducted six times between 1973 and 1995. These surveys shed light on the general components of living conditions; economics, housing conditions, leisure, social contact, health, education, employment and working conditions.

In 1996 a coordinated system of surveys was introduced. The system consisted of annual surveys with a repeating panel survey (EU-SILC from 2003) and a set of national rotating topics repeated every three years. The rotating topics were Work, Housing, leisure activities and victims of crime, Health care and social relations.

In 2011 the present system for surveying living conditions was introduced. A key objective of the new system was better coordination with international requirements connected to EU-SILC. National themes were coordinated with the European EU-SILC. The new system covers the presented topics from previous living condition surveys, in addition to new themes to illuminate political participation, social networks and economic and social problems.

In addition to the regular surveys of living conditions, Statistics Norway can on commission conduct individual surveys among selected groups.

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.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on 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.

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.

Voluntary survey.

EU regulation 1338/2008 and implementation regulation 141/2013.

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

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 and 2019, 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 and 2019 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. Based on numbers from the last survey in 2015, some countries have been supplemented with 100 additional individuals in the gross sample for 2019. These counties are Østfold, Telemark, Vestfold, Møre og Romsdal and Finnmark. The new county Trøndelag has been supplemented with 200 additional individuals. The final figures are weighted in order to correct for varying sampling probability in the counties, and for non-response.

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.

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.

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 1998, 2002, 2005, 2012, 2015 and 2019 are available in Statbank. Breaches in the time series are commented in footnotes in the tables.

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), 59 per cent (2015), and 57 per cent (2019).

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


Håvard Bergesen Dalen

(+47) 40 90 23 50