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LIVING IN BRITAIN - THE 1998 GENERAL HOUSEHOLD SURVEY RESULTS

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Detailed results from the 1998 General Household Survey* (GHS) are ...
Detailed results from the 1998 General Household Survey* (GHS) are

published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). These

show that:

In 1998, 29 per cent of households contained only one person,

compared with 17 per cent in 1971. The growth in the proportion of

one-person households has been particularly marked among households

consisting of one person aged 16-59; the proportion more than doubled

from five per cent in 1971 to 13 per cent in 1998.

Twenty-eight per cent of men and 26 per cent of women were current

cigarette smokers, compared with 29 per cent and 28 per cent

respectively in 1996. The proportion of cigarette smokers declined

steadily throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but has levelled out during

the 1990s.

Thirty-eight per cent of men and 21 per cent of women had drunk more

than the recommended daily benchmarks for alcohol consumption on at

least one day in the week prior to interview.

Almost three-quarters of professional households had a home computer

compared with just over a quarter of semi-skilled and less than a

fifth of unskilled manual households

Each year the GHS collects information on a wide range of socio

demographic subjects to provide an up-to-date picture of life and

social change in Britain.

The results, presented in the report Living in Britain, cover a range

of topics, including: household composition, housing and consumer

durables, marriage and cohabitation, occupational and personal

pension schemes, general health and the use of health services,

hearing, smoking, drinking, contraception, day care for children aged

under 14 and workless households.

Key findings from the 1998 survey include:

Household composition

The average size of households in 1998 was 2.36 persons, compared

with 2.91 persons in 1971.

In 1998, 29 per cent of households contained only one person,

compared with 17 per cent in 1971.

The proportion of families with dependent children headed by a lone

parent has increased steadily from eight per cent in 1971 to 25 per

cent in 1998. Most of this growth has been among lone-mother

families, the proportion of which more than tripled from seven per

cent in 1971 to 22 per cent in 1998. Lone-father families accounted

for one to two per cent of all families throughout this period.

Divorce, separation and housing tenure

The 1998 GHS looked at the effect of marital breakdown on housing

tenure, among people who were previously married or cohabiting.

Twelve months after divorce, separation or death of a partner, a

smaller proportion of men than of women were living in their former

home (37 per cent, compared with 48 per cent).

Nearly eight out of ten (78 per cent) of those who were previously

owner-occupiers were living in owner occupied accommodation at the

time of interview.

The proportion of those who previously rented their accommodation and

were doing so when they were interviewed was also 78 per cent.

Consumer durables

The GHS has recorded major changes in access to consumer durables

since 1972. For example, whereas 37 per cent of households had

central heating and 42 per cent a telephone in 1972, the proportions

had risen to 90 per cent and 96 per cent respectively by 1998.

There were marked increases between 1996 and 1998 in the proportion

of households with satellite and cable receivers (from 18 per cent of

households in 1996 - satellite receiver only - to 29 per cent in

1998); CD players (from 58 per cent to 68 per cent); and home

computers (from 27 per cent to 34 per cent).

Access to consumer durables varied with socio-economic group; almost

three-quarters of professional households had a home computer

compared with just over a quarter of semi-skilled and less than a

fifth of unskilled manual households.

The availability of home computers also varied with whether there was

anyone in the household in work; 47 per cent of working households

had a home computer, compared with 24 per cent of workless

households.

Car ownership

Seventy-two per cent of households had access to a car or van in

1998. The proportion of households with access to two or more

vehicles more than trebled from nine per cent in 1972 to 28 per cent

in 1998.

Marriage and cohabitation

Fourteen per cent of people aged 16-59 said they had, in the past,

lived as a couple with someone of the opposite sex whom they did not

subsequently marry. Nine per cent of people in this age group

reported one such relationship, three per cent reported two and two

per cent said they had had three or more such relationships. These

relationships did not include the current relationship of respondents

who were cohabiting at the time of interview.

Twelve per cent of men and 11 per cent of women aged 16-59 were

cohabiting at the time of interview.

In 1998, 53 per cent of women aged 18-49 were married, compared with

74 per cent in 1979. In contrast, the proportion of never married

women in this age group has almost doubled from 18 per cent to 30 per

cent during the same period. The proportion of non married women aged

18-49 who were cohabiting at the time of interview rose from 11 per

cent in 1979 to 29 per cent in 1998.

Occupational and personal pensions

Among those working full-time, 57 per cent of men and 56 per cent of

women said they belonged to the scheme run by their current employer.

In contrast, only 27 per cent of women who were working part-time

belonged to their employer's scheme.

The likelihood of belonging to an occupational scheme was lowest

among those aged under 25. For example, among the 18-24 age group, 20

per cent of men and 25 per cent of women working full time and five

per cent of women working part-time belonged to their employer's

scheme.

Health, use of health services and hearing

In 1998, a third of people reported a longstanding illness, while one

in five said they had a condition which limited their activities in

some way.

People in manual households were more likely than those in non manual

households to say they had a longstanding illness.

Children aged 5-15 living in workless households were almost twice

as likely as children living in working households to have a limiting

longstanding illness: 13 per cent, compared with seven per cent.

Adults living in workless households were more than three times as

likely as those living in working households to describe their health

as 'not good'; 29 per cent did so, compared with eight per cent.

Fourteen per cent of people had seen a GP in the last two weeks, 16

per cent had been an outpatient in the last three months and nine per

cent had been an inpatient in the last year.

Men were more likely than women, and older people more likely than

younger people to say they had hearing difficulties. For example, 53

per cent of men and 41 per cent of women aged 75 and over had

problems with their hearing, compared with eight per cent of men and

five per cent of women aged 16-44.

Smoking

In 1998, 28 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women in Great Britain

were current cigarette smokers. This compares with 51 per cent of men

and 41 per cent of women who were current smokers in 1974. Prevalence

in England was also 28 per cent for men and 26 per cent for women

(27% for all adults). The likelihood of being a smoker declined

steadily throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but seems to have levelled

out during the l990s.

Young people were more likely than older people to smoke; in Great

Britain, 36 per cent of 16-24 year-olds were current smokers,

compared with 16 per cent of people aged 60 and over.

Prevalence was higher among respondents from the manual socio

economic groups than among those from non-manual groups: about a

third of men and women from the former group smoked, compared with

just over a fifth of the latter.

Other findings on smoking are similar to those noted in previous

years of the GHS. Nearly two-thirds of people who had ever smoked

regularly started before the age of 18 and well over a third started

before they were 16.

Fifty eight per cent of smokers felt that it would be either very or

fairly difficult to go without smoking for a whole day.

More than two-thirds of smokers said they would like to give up

smoking.

Fifteen per cent of smokers had their first cigarette within five

minutes of waking up.

Drinking

Current advice on sensible drinking is based on daily benchmarks. The

GHS included, for the first time in 1998, questions designed to

measure alcohol consumption on the heaviest drinking day in the last

week. In the seven days before interview:

Seventy-five per cent of men and 59 per cent of women had had an

alcoholic drink on at least one day.

Fourteen per cent of men compared with eight per cent of women had

drunk alcohol every day.

Thirty-eight per cent of men and 21 per cent of women had exceeded

the daily benchmarks; that is, men had consumed more than four units

and women more than three units on at least one day.

Twenty-one per cent of men and eight per cent of women had drunk more

than eight units and more than six units respectively on at least one

day.

Contraception

In 1998, the most common methods of contraception used by women aged

16-49 were the contraceptive pill (used by 24 per cent of women),

sterilisation, of either the woman or her partner (used by 23 per

cent) and the male condom (used by 18 per cent).

Between 1989 and 1993, the percentage of women using the pill

increased from 22 per cent to 25 per cent, since when it has remained

at roughly the same level. The proportion of women whose partners

used the condom increased from 13 per cent in 1986 to 18 per cent in

1995, since when it has remained unchanged. Since 1986, about a

quarter of women or their partners have used sterilisation as a

method of contraception.

Day care

During term-time, day care arrangements were made for just under half

of pre-school children; that is, children aged 0-5 who were not

attending school full time.

Relatives were the most common source of care, looking after 18 per

cent of such children. Ten per cent of pre-school children attended

nurseries, excluding workplace nurseries, nine per cent went to play

groups, seven per cent to parent and toddler groups and six per cent

to registered childminders.

Just over three-quarters of pre-school children whose mothers worked

full-time attended some form of day care, as did just over two-thirds

whose mothers worked part-time and just over a quarter of pre-school

children with economically inactive mothers. (Economically inactive

people are those who are not working and not unemployed.)

Parents of just under a third of children aged 4-13 who were

attending school full-time made arrangements for their children to be

looked after during term-time.

Relatives were again the most common source of help, caring for 18

per cent of the children in this group. Nine per cent were cared for

by friends or neighbours, while five per cent attended after-school

clubs or schemes and three per cent went to a registered childminder.

Fifty-eight per cent of schoolchildren whose mother worked full time

attended day care, as did 34 per cent of those with part-time working

mothers, 19 per cent of those with unemployed mothers and 10 per cent

of those with economically inactive mothers.

BACKGROUND NOTES

1. The General Household Survey is a continuous, multi-purpose survey

based on a sample of the general population resident in private

households in Great Britain. It has been carried out by the Social

Survey Division of ONS since 1971, is commissioned by a number of

Government Departments and is widely used for policy and planning

purposes.

2. Interviewing took place during the period April 1998 to March

1999. For ease of reference, this News Release refers to 1998.

Interviewers collected information from about 16,000 adults aged 16

and over in almost 9,000 households. Preliminary results from the

1998 GHS were published on 1 December 1999.

3. The GHS uses the Registrar General's socio-economic grouping,

which can be found in Standard Occupational Classification, Volume 3.

The majority of GHS tables use a collapsed version, which is as

follows:

Professional

Employers and managers

Intermediate non-manual

Junior non-manual

Skilled manual (including foremen and women, and supervisors)

and own account non-professional

Semi-skilled manual and personal service

Unskilled manual

4. Workless households are defined as households which contain at

least one person of working age, 16-64 for men and 16-59 for women,

but have no household member in paid work. Working households

contain at least one person in paid work, even if that person is

above the normal retirement age.

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