Volunteering, political participation and trust, survey on living conditions

Updated: 13 December 2022

Next update: Not yet determined

Has volunteered in the last 12 months
Has volunteered in the last 12 months
Volunteering and political participation among people aged 16 years and older (per cent)
Volunteering and political participation among people aged 16 years and older (per cent)
Has volunteered, in total51.6
Board work or administration18.1
Instruction or training9.7
Charity or collections30.8
Campaigning or political work6.9
Political participation
Voted in last parliamentary election (self-reported)77.2
Signed a petition or public appeal last 12 months19.8
Written a post online about societal issues last 12 months15.4
Written an article in a newspaper/magazine last 12 months3.9
Discussed an issue with politician or public authorities last 12 months13.6
Participated in a demonstration last 12 months4.6
Participated in an organization, political party, or political action group last 12 months9.9
Explanation of symbols

About the statistics

Statistics on civic engagement in the Norwegian population, covering membership and voluntary efforts in organisations, political participation, and trust. The data is based on the survey on living conditions EU-SILC.

Volunteerism: Respondents are asked whether they volunteer for various organisations, and count how many organizations the respondents are active in. In addition, membership and the number of hours of voluntary work for voluntary organizations and political parties are surveyed. We also ask about the type of volunteerism, where a distinction is made between board work/administration, instruction and training, charity work and collections, information work and other forms of voluntary efforts.

Political participation: Political participation includes self-reported voting in the last parliamentary election and to what extent people participate politically through writing newspaper articles, participate in demonstrations, etc.

Trust: In this section, trust in institutions in society is surveyed. The questions measure whether the respondent has confidence in the local council, the police, the judiciary, the political system and the news media. The interviewee answers on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates low trust, while 10 indicates high trust.


Persons are grouped by age at the beginning of the year for the completion of the main part of the interview.


The centrality index is a code with a value for each municipality, which gives a measure of the municipality's centrality. The index is divided into six levels:
1. Most central municipalities
2. Second most central municipalities
3. Above medium central municipalities
4. Medium central municipalities
5. Second least central municipalities
6. The least central municipalities


On 1 January 2020, the county division in Norway was changed. The county division is as follows:
Vestfold and Telemark
Møre and Romsdal
Trøndelag – Trööndelage
Nordland – Nordlánnda
Troms and Finnmark - Romsa and Finnmárku

Family cycle phase

Persons are grouped mainly by age, marital status and whether the person has children. There is a distinction between singles and couples, where couples include both married couples and cohabitants. The concept “single person” 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 in the household.


Highest level of attained education divided into four levels: below upper secondary level, upper secondary level, short tertiary education and long tertiary education.

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.

Employed: Consists of both employees and self-employed persons who work full-time or part-time.
In retirement
Permanently disabled or/and unfit to work
Student: includes persons in vocational training and military service

Name: Volunteering, political participation, and trust, survey on living conditions
Topic: Culture and recreation

Not yet determined

Division for Income and social welfare statistics

National, regional and residential area (centrality).

The living conditions survey EU-SILC is carried out annually. From 2011 onwards, the survey consists of a set of core questions and theme sections with rotating topics. The topics are repeated with a cycle of three years. Volunteering, political participation and trust was previously called Organizational activity, political participation and social network, and was the topic in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020. The other rotating topics are Sports and outdoor activities, Housing and Housing and Offenses and fear of Crime. There are separate surveys of health, care and social relations and work and working conditions.

In 2011, the data collection of the national topics in the Survey on Living Conditions was merged with the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). EU-SILC is a European sample survey of income, social exclusion and living conditions that is coordinated through the EU's statistics agency Eurostat, and anchored in the European Statistical System (ESS). Cross-sectional and panel files are sent to Eurostat annually. EU-SILC microdata is available to researchers and students through 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 Sikt – Kunnskapssektorens tjenesteleverandør.


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”).


Statistics Norway has a long tradition of conducting living conditions surveys, and the first surveys date back to 1973. From 1973 to 1995, six general living conditions surveys were conducted. The surveys shed light on the living conditions components economy, living conditions, leisure time, social network, health, education and working conditions.

From 1996 and onwards, a system was created for surveys on living conditions, which consisted of two annual surveys: a panel survey and a thematic rotating cross-sectional survey. The panel survey was carried out for the first time in 1997. In 2003, the annual panel survey was replaced by The European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). The cross-sectional surveys had a rotating theme, with a cycle of three years. Working environment and childcare were the topics in 1996, 2000 and 2003, and working environment was the topic in 2006 and 2009. Living conditions, organizational participation, leisure time and exposure to and fear of crime were topics in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007. Health, care and social contact were topics in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008.

Due to the need for coordination with international requirements and streamlining of data collection, the system for living conditions surveys was restructured again from 2011. The two separate surveys were then merged into one survey, the Living Conditions Survey EU-SILC. The cross-sectional survey's rotating themes of living conditions, organizational participation, leisure time and vulnerability and anxiety about crime were thus collected as rotating modules for the panel survey from 2011. The living conditions survey on the working environment was changed from a cross-sectional survey to a panel survey in 2006, and has also been carried out in 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2019. The living conditions survey on health, care and social contact was carried out according to the same template as previously in 2012, but in 2015 was included in the European Health Survey (EHIS). The Living Conditions Survey on Health (EHIS) was last conducted in 2019.

In 2021, all social statistics in the EU were coordinated under the "Integrated European Social Statistics" (IESS) framework. This meant that the questions and requirements for collection methodology were coordinated between the surveys. Statistics Norway also used the opportunity to review the EU-SILC and make changes to the weighting procedures and structure and content in the national modules.

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 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.

The concept of living conditions covers a very wide range of topics. Statistics on living conditions are therefore associated with many other statistics.

Information on housing is also available from registers. The register-based statistics on housing conditions enable breakdowns at a more detailed geographical level. The Survey of Consumer Expenditure also has issues on housing conditions, including a more detailed summary of most kinds of housing expenditures.

Information on employment is collected from several sources. The Labour Force Survey is an important source and provides information that supplements the information in the study of living conditions, e.g. training in the workplace, weekend work, working arrangements and the attachment of the disabled to the labour market. Some records, such as the employee/employer registry, sick leave registry etc. are also relevant. The information in these registers can also be utilised in the Survey on Living Conditions.

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.

The topic leisure activities no longer includes information about cultural activities. This can be obtained from the Cultural and Media Use Surveys conducted by Statistics Norway and from different cultural statistics.

Voluntary survey


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 Living Conditions, EU-SILC comprises approximately 11 500 individuals.

The sample is drawn according to the procedures for random selection.

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 mainly occurs 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.

Surveys that collect information on industry and occupation are encoded by Statistics Norway.

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
Not relevant

The topic Volunteering, political participation and trust builds on the former national module Organizational activity, political participation and social networks. Organizational activity was a topic in the surveys in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020, while Political participation and Social network were topics for the first time in the survey in 2011.

Some of the time series on organizational activity can be traced back to the general living conditions surveys 1980-1995.
With the new EU regulation in 2020, a revision of the Living Conditions Survey was initiated. The revision involved a review of the national theme of voluntary political participation and trust, which is now coordinated with the EU's rotation plan and revised to respond to today's national needs and improve the overall survey form.

A disadvantage of restructuring is that it creates breaks in time series, and the value of quality improvements must be weighed against this consideration. At the same time, there are obviously many benefits, such as increased quality, reduced burden for respondents, ease of work for interviewers, possible increased response rate, and opportunities for mixed mode data collection in the future.

Current variables that are comparable with earlier surveys, include:

Written a post online about social issues

Written article in a newspaper or magazine

Discussed an issue with politician or public authorities

Participated in a demonstration

Participated in an organisation, political party or political action group

Voted at the last general election

Non-response errors

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, income, county of residence, family size and immigrant status.

Sampling errors

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.

Table 1. Standard deviation in per cent

Not relevant


Håvard Bergesen Dalen


(+47) 40 90 23 50

Madeleine Elisabeth Schlyter Oppøyen


(+47) 41 58 41 65