Vulnerability in the social environment of welfare recipients in The Hague

In order to map the social environment, Statistics Netherlands has deduced who the relatives and nearest neighbors are for all Dutch people on the basis of integral register data. The family network provides insight into broader family relationships; not only parents, brothers, sisters and children are looked at, but also further relatives, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.

Compared to existing regional research, where the characteristics of the entire neighborhood are often analysed, the neighbor network brings more focus by looking only at the nearest neighbours. Because it is not known whether people actually have contact and how intensive or good that contact is, this study discusses potential personal networks. Nevertheless, this database offers the opportunity to obtain a broad picture of the social environment of social assistance recipients.

The vulnerability of these potential personal networks was examined on 3 themes: socio-economic position, use of facilities and care. In addition, a comparison was made with the social environment of working poor and non-working poor in The Hague and that of social assistance recipients in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

The results show that the relatives and neighbors of welfare recipients in The Hague are more often vulnerable than those of workers in The Hague who may or may not be poor. This is especially apparent in the socio-economic characteristics. The largest differences between the research groups in The Hague are visible in poverty. On average, family members of social assistance recipients in The Hague are almost 1.5 times more likely to be poor than family members of working poor. And they are on average twice as often poor as family members of non-poor workers. For most groups and characteristics, the average percentage of poverty in the neighbor network is higher than that in the family network.

Except for the theme of care, only minor differences can be seen between family members of the different groups of social assistance recipients in the G4. The vulnerability of the nearest neighbors of the different groups of social assistance recipients differs, however. The neighbors of social assistance recipients in The Hague and Rotterdam are on average more vulnerable than the neighbors of social assistance recipients in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Comparable results were found for all investigated characteristics in the field of socio-economic position and use of facilities. The results in the field of care differ from the two other themes. The group of social assistance recipients in The Hague has a higher percentage of health problems in both the family and neighbor networks, followed by social assistance recipients from Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam.

In order to further investigate the differences between the comparison groups in The Hague regarding the presence of poverty in the family network, two in-depth analyzes were carried out. First, we looked at differences between districts. It appears that there are visible differences between neighborhoods for all research groups in The Hague. A second, more exploratory, analysis shows that poverty is more common among each type of family member of social assistance recipients compared to the other two groups in The Hague. Poverty therefore runs in the wider family. In addition, poverty is more common among relationships closer to the person themselves.

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