The latest report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found young people are less likely to stop and talk to their neighbours, trust people in their local area and have a strong sense of belonging.
In the 25-page report, the research team covered four key aspects of social capital: personal relationships, social network support, civic engagement and trust and cooperative norms.
Social capital strongly associated with age
- Those aged 18 to 24 were significantly less likely to report trusting others in their local area (47%). Among those aged 75 and over, around 80% reported trusting people in their local area.
- Those aged 18 to 24 were also less likely to stop and talk with their neighbours and borrow things and exchange favours with their neighbours.
- Less than half (47%) of those aged 18 to 24 reported feeling that they belong to their local area, compared with around 8 in 10 people (81%) of those aged 75 and over.
- However, a high proportion of people reported that their local area was a place where people from different backgrounds got on well together in 2013 to 2014, across all age groups (80% of those aged 18 to 24 and 93% of those aged 75 and over).
The authors of the report commented: “More research is needed to investigate the drivers of this age gap in interaction with neighbours, and how this relates to trust in others in the local area and sense of belonging in the local area.
“We also need to look at why these indicators of social capital are low for young people, yet most people, including the young, feel that people from different backgrounds get on well in the local area.”
What else did the report find using other data sets?
- Young people were the least interested in politics: around 4 in 10 (39%) of those aged 18 to 24 reported being quite or very interested in politics, compared to just under two-thirds (64%) of those aged 65 to74 (2012 to 2013).
- People aged 75 and over were the least likely to have at least one close friend; 11% of them reported having no close friend at all, compared to 2% of those aged 18 to 24 (2011 to 2012).
- Around 1 in 4 women (24%) and in 1 in 5 men (19%) aged 75 and over reported caring for someone sick, disabled or elderly within their household (2012 to 2013).
- Middle aged people (aged 45 to 54) were the most likely to feel lonely of all age groups (15% in 2011 to 2012) and the least likely to socialise, with nearly half (49%) reporting meeting socially with family, friends or colleagues less than once a week (2012 to 2013).
- Fewer women than men reported feeling safe walking alone in their local area (58% compared to 85% in 2013 to 2014).