Our latest TGF data is full of interesting nuggets – not least our update on the Pew Research Spring 2017 research which looks at whether life is better in the UK today than 50 years ago.
Our data shows that women are less positive than men – 56% of men think that life is better today than 50 years ago (29% of men think it is worse) compared with only 42% of women (43% of women think it is worse). And this holds true across all age groups with women aged 30-49 years the least positive – only 37% of them think that life is better today and 46% of them think it is worse.
On one level this is extraordinary: 50 years ago women couldn’t get a mortgage without a man’s guarantee, married women were not treated as individuals for tax purposes, the Equal Pay Act was still two years away and women did the bulk of unpaid work in the home.
But maybe there is the nub of the issue, this week’s Company Gender Pay Gap data shows that despite 50 years of legislative and behavioural change, women are still a long way from reaching their full potential. The data shows that the majority of companies (65%) have fewer men than women in their highest paid quartile, and a large minority (35%) of companies have less than 25% women in their highest paid quartile. At the same time as having fewer opportunities than men, our time use data show that women, particularly in the 30-49 age group, are still more likely to spend more time than men on unpaid work at home. So maybe it’s not that surprising that women are less than enthusiastic than men about life today. Is life seen as too much hard work for too little gain?
Another interesting finding from this month’s TGF data is that young adults are less positive about life in the UK today than in the Pew Research conducted a year ago (66% of 18-29 year olds were positive in Spring 2017, compared with only 47% in Spring 2018).
It is too soon to say whether this is just a statistical or sampling quirk, or if it is a real downward trend, but it is certainly one we will be monitoring over the coming months since if youth become disaffected, disruption is surely more likely. As this National Geographic story puts it “Young people have better social networks, more innovative methods available to them and less to lose”.