Press release de 06/29/2006


The evolution of living conditions for the Basque population presents positive and negative results

Family and social relations have intensified, and the physical and social environment have improved, while one in three families state that they find it difficult to reach the end of the month

The evolution of the quality of life of the Basque population over the last 5 years positive and negative results, according to Eustat data. There was an important improvement in the social and physical environment and the growth of education, the strengthening of family and social relations and the maintenance of household equipment, but, with regard to economic resources, one in every three families state that they find it difficult to reach the end of the month.

Increase in the intensity of family relations

Changes in the family structure, such as the increase in the number of single person families and the incorporation of mothers into the labour market have not brought about the destruction of family networks, although the way in which a relationship is maintained is modified according to the new needs that families face in the society of today. In fact, the ageing of the population and increase in the female activity rate have involved an important increase in the number of families that give or receive aid from close relatives on a daily or weekly basis.

The presence and intensity of family relations in the A.C. of the Basque Country is high: 94% of families maintain some kind of relation with the close family and 96% of the relations declared may be classified as intense or frequent.

Relations with other relatives take place among 86% of families, being intense or frequent in 61% of cases.

Relations with friends take place in 90% of families and 83% of the group maintain intense or frequent friendships.

The relation with neighbours involves 92% of families, being the second type of relation in intensity following the relation with the close family, and the most common type are daily and weekly conversations (in 93% of cases for the relations declared), followed at some distance by providing help or aid.

Maintaining family relationships or relations with neighbours strengthens several aspects of informal care between households, and builds an important network of support and solidarity and on occasions, compensate the deficiencies left uncovered by the institutional services in care for people in need.

60% of families live in a “healthy” physical environment and both the social environment and citizen safety are improving

Over 60% of families consider that living in a “healthy” environment derived from a lower presence of external inconveniences related to pollution, noise and bad smells, although 20% of families still suffer the consequences of the deterioration of the environment, although this percentage is almost 9 points lower than in 1999.

The social environment is very or quite healthy for 80% of Basque families, which represents a 8 point improvement with regard to 1999 and over 26 with regard to fifteen years ago. This situation of a bonanza in the social environment does not exclude important provincial differences: Bizkaia is 10 percentage points below Álava and Gipuzkoa in the proportion of families with a very healthy social environment.

Public safety, understood as a synthesis of robberies and aggression, seems to be improving slightly in its aggregate form, as all burglaries and vehicle thefts have decreased while the theft of other property has increased. The percentage of families who do not have a problem with public safety is over 80% (83.3%).

10% of households do not have some basic equipment in the home

Basic equipment is present in the vast majority of households in the A.C. of the Basque Country, although there are still 20,000 families that do not have any heating system, their presence being slightly more common among less urbanized districts of Bizkaia.

The individual gas boiler system is experiencing a moment of expansion, and is used by 53% of households, which is linked to the installation of piped gas, present in over half (54.8%) Basque households.

In addition, one in every 10 households do not have any of the equipment considered to be basic(telephone, refrigerator, washing machine), despite the fact that the proportion of very well equipped households continues to rise.

Corner shops tend to decrease in number or move away from nearby locations

Many opportunities for welfare stem from the nearby existence of a variety of services. The urban character of a large part of the A.C. of the Basque Country favours the presence of this type of services close to households.

Certain changes can be seen with regard to nearby facilities. The small sized shop –supermarket, greengrocer’s, newsagent's are moving away or disappearing, while there is an increase in stores selling cleaning materials and chemists.

Educational services also show certain changes; while the presence of nurseries is increasing, primary education centres have decreased by one percentage point per five year period.

Slightly further away are book shops and cinemas and theatres, which are slightly decreasing in number, while sports centres are gaining ground on frontons.

One in three families find it hard to reach the end of the month

A central element in the quality of life is the availability of the economic resources required to enable families and individuals to lead a dignified life.

One in every 10 households (13.5%) in the Basque Country have home help, mostly external. Their presence is found in all the districts with the exception of districts in Álava outside the Llanada (Plain), where their presence is much lower.

One in 4 families (23%) have suffered economic difficulties, fundamentally in leisure, clothing and footwear, but we should point out that a quarter of these also consider that they have encountered difficulty in finding food.

In addition, one in every three families reach the end of the month with difficulty and one in two consider their economic situation to be worse than 3 years ago.

Increase in the school population

The school population has increased over recent years, a result of the obligation to stay at school until the age of 16, and the incorporation of younger children into the regulated education world is more and more important.

Two in three students aged over 6 study in the morning and afternoon and there is a falling trend for students to study only in the morning or only in the afternoon. Furthermore, the proportion of pupils who go home for lunch has fallen by 20 percentage points since 1989, among the school population.

The most frequent average displacement to the place of study was and continues to be on foot.

Increase in the proportion of people with total or partial dependence

On the subject of health the fundamental concern is focused on maintaining as high as possible a level of ‘quality of life’. Almost one in 10 persons aged over 6 (8%) suffer health problems which make their daily life difficulty, a figure which has varied little since 1989.

However, the type of difficulties that this group suffers shows an evolution: the proportion of these people who present a total or partial dependence is growing slowly (from 70% to 88%) over the period.

29% of the population belong to an association

The Basque population is characterised by a high level of social participation through organized groups. Nearly 29% of the population aged 6 and over belong to one or more associations, among which the most common, in this order, are sports (9%), cultural (6.3%) and religious (5.5%), followed by political parties, trade unions and professional organizations (4%).

For further information:

Euskal Estatistika-Erakundea / Instituto Vasco de Estadística
C/ Donostia-San Sebastian, 1 01010 Vitoria-Gasteiz
Tel:+34-945-01 75 00 Fax:+34-945-01 75 01 E-mail:
Contact: Pilar Martínez
Tel:+34-945-01 75 33 Fax:+34-945-01 75 01
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The evolution of living conditions for the Basque population presents positive and negative results

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