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British Household Panel Survey

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many and what proportion of (a) working age adults and (b) pensioners were recorded by the British Household Panel Survey as (i) unemployed, (ii) living in a workless household, (iii) having no educational qualifications , (iv) living in social housing, (v) living in overcrowded conditions, (vi) suffering poor mental health, (vii) suffering poor health, (viii) living alone, (ix) lacking consumer durables and (x) enduring financial stress in each year since 1991. (112814)

The information is as follows:

(i) Unemployment

Figures from the British Household Panel Survey indicate that the proportion of working age adults in unemployment fell continuously between 1991 and 2001 (see following table), from 7.19 per cent. to 2.98 per cent. It increased to 3.78 per cent. in 2003. Grossing these proportions up to population estimates suggests that the numbers of unemployed among the working age population have fallen from 2.48 million in 1991 to 1.05 million in 2001, which has since increased to 1.35 million in 2003. (Note that the concept of unemployment is relatively meaningless for pensioners, and therefore we have not shown this.)

Working age population

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

7.19

2.48

1993

6.68

2.31

1995

5.15

1.80

1997

4.17

1.45

2001

2.98

1.05

2003

3.78

1.35

(ii) Living in a workless household

The proportion of the working age population who live in a workless household increased from 12.55 per cent. in 1991 to 13.69 per cent. in 1993 (see following table). Since then however, it has fallen continuously, to 9.68 per cent. in 2003. Grossing these to population estimates suggests that the number of working age adults in Britain who live in a workless household has fallen by approximately 1.3 million, from 4.74 million in 1993 to 3.47 million in 2003. Almost all pensioners live in a workless household (by definition), and so we have excluded this from the pensioner analysis.)

Working age population

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

12.55

4.33

1993

13.69

4.74

1995

12.60

4.40

1997

11.62

4.03

2001

10.71

3.79

2003

9.68

3.47

(iii) No qualifications

The British Household Panel Survey suggests that the proportion of working age adults with no qualifications has fallen from 24.37 per cent. in 1991 to 11.39 per cent. in 2003.

However, part of this fall is a cohort effect, caused by ever-increasing numbers of younger individuals attaining higher qualification levels, while older workers (a large proportion of which have no qualifications) retire. These figures suggest that 4.1 million working-age adults in Britain have no qualifications in 2003, compared with 8.4 million in 1991.

There has also been a continuous fall in the proportion of pensioners with no qualifications, from 64.38 per cent. in 1991 to 49.18 per cent. in 2003. Again, some of this is a cohort effect, with older pensioners with no qualifications being replaced by younger pensioners with higher qualification attainment. In terms of numbers, this suggests that about 1.5 million fewer pensioners had no qualifications in 2003 than in 1991 (5.26 million compared with 6.70 million).

Working age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

24.37

8.41

64.38

6.70

1993

20.78

7.19

61.56

6.40

1995

18.42

6.43

60.23

6.26

1997

16.50

5.73

58.46

6.14

2001

12.47

4.41

53.04

5.62

2003

11.39

4.08

49.18

5.26

(iv) Living in Social housing

The proportion of working age adults living in social housing has fallen continuously over the period, from 17.53 per cent. in 1991 to 14.01 per cent. in 2003. In terms of population estimates, this suggests that one million fewer working-age individuals lived in social housing in 2003 than in 1991 (5.02 million in 2003 compared with 6.05 million in 1991).

Among pensioners, the proportion has also fallen from 35.03 per cent. in 1991 to 22.36 per cent. in 2003. This suggests that about 1.2 million fewer pensioners lived in social housing in 2003 than in 1991 (2.4 million in 2003 compared with 3.64 million in 1991).

Working age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

17.53

6.05

35.03

3.64

1993

16.89

5.84

31.90

3.32

1995

16.23

5.66

31.49

3.27

1997

15.98

5.55

28.47

2.99

2001

15.11

5.35

25.24

2.68

2003

14.01

5.02

22.36

2.39

(v) Living in overcrowded conditions

Living conditions (in terms of overcrowding) have improved among working-age adults. In 1991, 8.5 per cent. of the working-age population lived in overcrowded conditions (defined as living in accommodation in which there are more people than rooms). By 2003, this had fallen to 5.91 per cent. In terms of numbers, these estimates suggest that 2.12 million working-age individuals lived in overcrowded conditions in 2003, compared with 2.93 million in 1991.

Very few pensioners (less than 1 per cent.) lived in overcrowded conditions, translating into fewer than 100,000 individuals.

Working age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

8.50

2.93

0.87

0.09

1993

7.92

2.74

0.10

0.01

1995

7.60

2.65

0.24

0.02

1997

6.84

2.37

0.47

0.05

2001

5.96

2.11

0.46

0.05

2003

5.91

2.12

0.46

0.05

(vi) Suffering poor mental health

The proportion of working-age individuals suffering from poor mental health (defined as having a General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) score of 14 or more on the 36-point Likert scale) has increased over the period, from 20.8 per cent. in 1991 to 23 per cent. in 2003. This translates into an increase of approximately one million individuals, from 7.2 million in 1991 to 8.2 million in 2003.

There has also been an increase in the proportion of pensioners suffering from poor mental health from 20.8 per cent. in 1991 to 23.1 per cent. in 2003. This corresponds to an increase of about 0.4 million pension-age individuals in poor mental health.

Working-age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

20.80

7.18

20.84

2.17

1993

23.38

8.09

23.23

2.42

1995

24.96

8.71

23.05

2.40

1997

23.74

8.24

22.72

2.38

2001

24.33

8.61

24.06

2.55

2003

22.96

8.22

23.10

2.47

(vii) Suffering poor health

There was also an increase between 1991 and 2001 in the proportion of working-age individuals reporting poor physical health, from 12 per cent. in 1991 to 14.7 per cent. in 2001. However, this proportion fell to 13.4 per cent. in 2003. This translates into an increase in the number of working-age individuals with poor physical health of 1.1 million between 1991 and 2001, from 4.15 million in 1991 to 5.2 million in 2001. In 2003, approximately 4.8 million working-age adults suffered from poor physical health.

A similar pattern emerges for pensioners, with an increase in the proportion suffering poor health between 1991 and 2001 (from 38.6 per cent. to 49.1 per cent.), and then a fall in 2003 to 44.9 per cent. This translates into an increase in the number of pensioners with poor health from four million in 1991 to 5.2 million in 2001, followed by a fall to 4.8 million in 2003.

Working-age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

12.03

4.15

38.58

4.01

1993

12.47

4.31

37.56

3.91

1995

13.69

4.78

40.36

4.20

1997

14.01

4.86

40.95

4.30

2001

14.76

5.23

49.08

5.20

2003

13.36

4.78

44.90

4.80

(viii) Lives alone

There has been an increase in the proportion of the working-age population living alone from 7.6 per cent. in 1991 to 11.6 per cent. in 2001, translating into an increase of 1.5 million individuals (from 2.6 million in 1991 to 4.1 million in 2001). This proportion fell to 9.7 per cent. in 2003, indicating that about 3.5 million working-age individuals lived alone.

There was also an initial increase in the proportion of pensioners who lived alone from 39.8 per cent. in 1991 to 42.8 per cent. in 1995 (corresponding to an increasing of about 0.3 million individuals). This proportion fell between 1995 and 2003, such that in 2003 36.8 per cent. of pensioners were living alone (corresponding to about 4 million individuals).

Working age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

7.59

2.62

39.78

4.14

1993

9.39

3.25

42.40

4.41

1995

10.15

3.54

42.75

4.45

1997

10.22

3.55

40.39

4.24

2001

11.63

4.12

39.88

4.23

2003

9.72

3.48

36.76

3.93

(ix) Lacking consumer durables

There has been a big decline in the proportion of the working-age population who lack consumer durables (defined as having access to fewer than five of the following: car, colour TV, VCR, washing machine, dishwasher, microwave oven, home PC, CD player). This proportion has fallen from 34.5 per cent. in 1991 to just 4.6 per cent. in 2003. This translates into a fall in numbers from 11.9 million in 1991 to 1.65 million in 2003.

The fall in the proportion of pensioners lacking consumer durables has been equally dramatic, from 83.6 per cent. in 1991 to 35.9 per cent. in 2003. The number of pension-age individuals lacking consumer durables has fallen from 8.7 million in 1991 to 3.8 million in 2003.

Working-age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

34.46

11.89

83.55

8.69

1993

24.06

8.32

74.01

7.70

1995

17.45

6.09

68.25

7.10

1997

13.02

4.52

59.97

6.30

2001

7.37

2.61

45.26

4.80

2003

4.60

1.65

35.91

3.84

(x) Enduring financial distress

The proportion of the working-age population enduring financial distress (defined as either having problems meeting housing costs or has been more than two months in arrears with their mortgage or rent in the past year) has fallen from 15.2 per cent. in 1991 to 5.6 per cent. in 2003, translating into a reduction of about 3.2 million individuals. In 1991 about 5.2 million working-age adults were enduring financial distress, compared to 2 million in 2003.

There has also been a fall in the proportion of pensioners enduring financial distress over the period, from 6.9 per cent. in 1991 to 1.5 per cent. in 2003. (Although note that this may not be a very good measure of financial distress among pensioners, because a substantial proportion of pensioners do not have housing costs). This reduction translates into a fall in the numbers of pensioners suffering financial distress of about 0.5 million (from 0.7 million in 1991 to 0.2 million in 2003).

Working-age populationPensioners

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

Proportion

Population estimate (million)

1991

15.18

5.24

6.94

0.72

1993

12.18

4.21

4.80

0.50

1995

8.65

3.02

3.67

0.38

1997

7.53

2.61

3.46

0.36

2001

5.90

2.09

1.83

0.19

2003

5.64

2.02

1.52

0.16