Social participation among older adults (55+): Results of a survey in the region of South Limburg in the Netherlands

Nicole Curvers, Milena Pavlova*, Klaas Jan Hajema, Wim Groot, Federica Angeli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social participation may improve the health and well-being of older adults, and may increase the social and human capacity of their communities. This study investigates the level and forms of social participation among older adults (aged 55 years or older) in the region of South Limburg, the Netherlands, and their association with socio-demographic and health-related characteristics. The study provides evidence that can be used by policy makers to enhance social participation in the region. We use cross-sectional data collected in a survey in 2012 among a sample of older adults (aged 55 years or older) representative for the region of South Limburg. The results indicate that 56% (N = 16,291/weighted sample N = 213,332) of the older adults in the region participate in social activities. Specifically, 25.5% perform paid labour, 20% give informal care and 25% participate in volunteer work. Older adults with a higher education (OR = 2.49 for the highest education group) or higher income (OR = 1.70 for the highest income group) are significantly more likely to participate in social activities compared with the respective reference categories. Increased age (OR = 0.23 for the oldest age group), female gender (OR = 0.83), loneliness (OR = 0.75 for severe loneliness) and restrictions (OR = 0.78 for restrictions on the OECD scale, OR = 0.68 for restrictions on the HDL scale, OR = 0.52 for transportation restrictions) significantly hinder social participation. The lower social participation rate among older adults that we observe compared with the national statistics can be explained by the relatively higher proportion of people with low or average socioeconomic status in South Limburg. And as South Limburg is the unhealthiest region of the Netherlands, this also contributes to the low social participation. Prevention of poor physical and mental health, and provision of care services are important to encourage social participation among the older adults in South Limburg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e85-e93
Number of pages13
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2017


  • informal care
  • older adults
  • paid work
  • social participation
  • the Netherlands
  • volunteer work

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