Five reasons why families need good neighbours


Marlies Seifert



Happy multi-ethnic family with a little boy at an outdoor family meal in the garden.

Do you have children? We'll tell you why it's really worth being nice to your neighbours.

«It takes a village to raise a child», as the saying goes. It's not just a nice-sounding proverb – it's also backed up by figures.

12 percent

of all the people surveyed in the GDI's latest neighbourhood study are prepared to look after their neighbours' kids. We have to tap into this potential! For single parents in particular, the immediate living environment can offer important support. Having lunch together, picking up the kids from school – if you get on well with your neighbours, it's easier to share many tasks. 

39.1 percent

of the people with children frequently visit or are visited by their neighbours. Childless households were far less sociable. This was one of the findings in a German study conducted in 1990; however, the latest survey conducted by the GDI proves that not much has changed here. It's again clear that those with children have more contact with their neighbours. Furthermore, there's a greater willingness to help each other out with everyday things like watering the plants or emptying the letterbox.

82 percent

of young mothers have «good to very good contact» with their neighbours, according to a Swiss survey from 1998. In terms of contact frequency, the neighbours even come out on top – ahead of the respondents' own mothers! The fly in the ointment is that 85 per cent of the mothers would still appreciate more support, chats and sympathy.

Over 4,000 families

took part in a long-term study looking at the question of how children's environments affect their development. The results were summarised in the book «The Origins of You» (2020). Among other things, it was proven that young people from a friendly environment were less likely to indulge in self-harming, aggressive or antisocial behaviour. The authors talk about the «collective efficacy» of a neighbourhood and recommend being friendly with the people next door.

7 to 9-year-olds

are the most likely to get parents 'in' with the neighbours. For new residents especially, children are important door-openers. By way of example, an analysis of the living conditions in a Cologne suburb conducted in 2003 showed that it was the children who established contact with the neighbours. Earlier studies showed that this particularly applied to neighbourhood relations between families of different origin.

Photo/stage: Getty Images

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