A major survey of over 16,000 people across 20 countries shows that the British public are among the least likely to see themselves as materialistic. They are also less likely than the global average to feel under pressure to make money or be successful. Ongoing worries about the economy and living standards mean optimism about the future of the country is low. But consistent with the view that money isn’t everything, we are relatively optimistic about ourselves and our families over the next year.
Ipsos’s new Global Trends Survey data finds that only 16% of the British public say they measure their success by the things they own, down from 20% in 2008 – this puts us in the bottom three globally, with only the Spanish and Swedish less likely to agree. There are stark differences across countries – 71% of respondents in China agree that owning things is a measure of their success, as do 58% in India (although online survey results in developing countries should be viewed as representative of a more affluent and “connected” population).
But the proportion of the British public who feel under a lot of pressure to be successful and make money has risen significantly during the recession, from 27% in 2008 to 39% in 2013. This still places us slightly below the 46% global average. We feel under less pressure than those in emerging markets and North America, but under more pressure than some of our European neighbours, including the Italians and the French.
Other recent Ipsos surveys show our increasing concerns about living standards. This is reflected in this new international survey, where the public remain relatively pessimistic about Britain over the next year (just 25% of us are optimistic). However, most Britons are optimistic about themselves and their families over the next 12 months (61%), in line with the global average (59%).
Looking across countries, optimism about the country’s prospects is highest in India (53%), Canada (47%) and Australia (47%), while Spain (12%), Italy (10%) and France (9%) are the least optimistic. The same three European countries are in the bottom five on personal optimism, with Japan (40%) and South Korea (39%) even lower.
Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of the Social Research Institute, Ipsos, says:
“As the country emerges from recession, the British public’s concern about the national economy has fallen. But worries about our personal finances persist, and we are feeling under more pressure to make money. Yet we do not like to see ourselves as measuring success by the things we own, perhaps because we have more possessions to begin with. It is certainly the case that a materialistic outlook is much more common in emerging markets. And the fact that most Britons remain optimistic about their own lives suggests that we may actually believe that money isn’t everything.”
- Ipsos Global Trends Survey of 16,039 adults across 20 countries (1,000 GB), online, 3-17 September 2013. Data is weighted.
|I measure my success by the things I own|
|I feel under a lot of pressure to be successful and make money|
|Looking ahead to the next 12 months, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the following: [individual country]?|
|Looking ahead to the next 12 months, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the following: [you and your family]?|