Social and cultural participation

Women read more than men

Households
Women read more than men

“Have you read books in the last 12 months, including e-books and audio books?” For the SILC survey organised in 2022, Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, asked this question to a representative sample of the Belgian population aged 16 and over.

We note that women read more than men. 67% of them had read at least one book, compared to 52% of men. They are also bigger readers in terms of volume, with 24% having read at least 10 books in the previous year, compared to 15% of men. For the total population, the figures are 60% of readers, and 19% of readers of at least 10 books.

People aged 75 and over read less

The survey did not reveal any regional differences. However, there are differences according to age: fewer people aged 75 and over read than other age groups. This is not the case for young people aged 18 to 24, who read as much as people of working age.

More readers among employed people

While the self-employed are the most likely to cite lack of time as the reason for not having read at least one book in the last 12 months (14% compared to 6% for the total population), they are, like employees, proportionally more frequent readers than the unemployed, the retired and the economically inactive. 57% of the retired have read at least one book, compared to 63% of employed people. On the other hand, retired people who read are more likely to be avid readers: 24% of retired people have read at least 10 books over the year, or 42% of retired readers.

Great impact of the level of education

The level of education has a major impact on having read at least one book in the past year: 78% of people aged 16 and over with a higher education diploma have read at least one book, while 39% of people with at most a lower secondary education diploma have done so.

The lack of interest is the main reason for non-readers

If we look at the reasons why non-readers have not read at least one book in the last 12 months, the main reason is the lack of interest: 29% of the Belgian population did not read any books due to lack of interest. This figure rises to 47% for people with at most a lower secondary education diploma and 41% for the unemployed.

The economic reason of not having the financial means to buy books was given by only 0.3% of respondents. It concerns 1.2% of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE), even though almost 50% of them have read at least one book in the previous year.

These figures come from the ‘Social and cultural participation’ module of the EU-SILC 2022 survey, organised by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. The survey on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) interviews every year more than 6,500 Belgian households about their income and living conditions. In 2022, the survey ran from February to August, so the answers to the questions in this module may have been influenced by the particular conditions that prevailed during the COVID-19 crisis.

Graphic
Content
Downloads