Joint Programming Initiative

More Years, Better Lives

The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change

Housing Survey

Housing, Urban Development and Mobility
Relevance for this Topic
Country Belgium
More Topics


Contact information

Kristof Heylen
Research Institute for Work and Society – HIVA
Parkstraat 47 box 5300
3000 Leuven
Phone: +32 0 16 32 31 12
Email: kristof.heylen(at)

Timeliness, transparency

The first basic results were published in February 2007, i.e. after 1.5 years.

Type of data


Type of Study

Cross-section, occasional

A follow-up survey is being organised (the ‘Grote Woononderzoek). A previous survey conducted in 1995/1996 contains comparable data.

Data gathering method

Face-to-face interview (CAPI, PAPI)

The information gathered by the interviewers in the Housing Survey is linked to information gathered by technical experts of the Flemish administration on objective features of the dwelling and on the broader living environment using a standardised inspection form.

Access to data

Data from the Housing Survey are available free of charge. Contact Kristof Heylen (see contact information).

Conditions of access

Data access is granted by the Research Department of the Flemish Agency on Living [Agentschap Wonen Vlaanderen, cel Onderzoek]. No contract or formal requirement is needed.

Two weeks at most

Anonymised microdata


Survey documentation is only available in Dutch and French.


The data were collected in 2005 and 2006. A random sample of households living in the Flemish Region was drawn from the Belgian National Register. In total, 5,212 households were interviewed. A substantial proportion of the head of households were over 50 years old: 2,691 were between 50 and 59; 1,726 between 60 and 69; 964 between 70 and 79; and finally, 287 head of households were older than 80.


Stratification by districts [arrondissementen]

National Register

Flanders, breakdown by provinces and districts

No age limitations apply

Flemish Region

The Housing Survey is the most important dataset in Belgium to study housing and urban development. Various aspects related to housing are surveyed: - characteristics of dwellings and living environment - housing expenditure - financing of housing - maintenance of dwelling - housing history - housing satisfaction - etc.

No specific publications exist concerning the elderly. The following publicaties are more general. • Haffner, M., & Heylen, K. “User Costs and Housing Expenses. Towards a more Comprehensive Approach to Affordability”. Housing Studies 26(4) (2011): 593-614. • Heylen, K. “Distributional impact of housing subsidies in Flanders”. International Journal of Housing Policy (2013, forthcoming). • Heylen, K., & Haffner, M. “The Effect of Housing Expenses and Subsidies on the Income Distribution in Flanders and the Netherlands”. Housing Studies 27(8) (2013): 1142-1161. A thorough evaluation of data quality was performed. Unfortunately, most information on this evaluation is only available in Dutch. See especially: • Heylen K., Le Roy M., Vanden Broucke S., Vandekerckhove B., & Winters S. “Wonen in Vlaanderen; De resultaten van de Woonsurvey 2005 en de Uitwendige Woningschouwing 2005.” Departement Ruimtelijke Ordening, Woonbeleid en Onroerend Erfgoed, Woonbeleid, Brussel (2007). Some methodological information is also provided in the following English publication: • Heerwegh, D., Abts, K., & Loosveldt, G. “Minimizing survey refusal and noncontact rates: do our efforts pay off?” Survey Research Methods 1(1) (2007): 3-10.


The International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) was used.

As the sample was drawn from the National Register, the (confidential) data contain the National Register number for each respondent. This could allow for a link to other national databases containing the National Register Number. However, such a link so far has not been made and it is unclear to what extent such linkage would be accepted by the Belgian Privacy Commission.

Data quality

The data quality is of a very high quality for a social science survey. The technical experts reached 98% of the dwellings. The response rate of the survey was 67%. Weights were constructed to correct for non-response.


Strengths: An important strength of the data is that information of the Housing Survey is linked to objective features of the dwelling and broader living environment gathered by technical experts. Weaknesses: The survey is limited to households living in the Flemish Region. No similar surveys exist for the Brussels and Walloon Regions. Even though methodology, information, strengths and weaknesses are thoroughly documented, this information is, unfortunately, only available in Dutch, making collaboration with a Dutch speaking researcher essential.

  • The information about this dataset was compiled by the author:
  • Hans Peeters
  • (see Partners)