Scatterplots of attitudes to necessities by groups: UK 2012

By jm8576 |

These scatterplots allow you to compare the attitudes of various mutually exclusive groups as to which items and activities are necessities and which are not.

On a scatterplot, the x axis of the graph relates to one group and the y axis to the other. On the graph, each point represents an item or activity, and its position on the graph is determined by the percentage of each of the groups being compared who think that item is a necessity. If low and high scores from one group are coupled with low and high scores from the other group, the points on the graph will be close together along a straight line running at an angle of 45°, indicating a robust positive relationship (in other words, strong agreement). The more scattered the points are on the graph, the weaker the relationship (that is, less agreement). Items and activities falling in the top quadrant (shaded pink) are seen by both groups to be necessities and those in the bottom left quadrant are seen by neither as a necessity. Those in the top left quadrant are seen by the group represented on the y axis as a necessity but not the other and those in the bottom right quadrant are seen by the group represented on the x axis as a necessity but not the other.

Choose the groups you want to compare by selecting from the bottom left-hand boxes. So, for example, by selecting employment you can compare the attitudes of those who are in employment with those who are economically inactive. The groups being compared all cover the UK except for political support which covers the GB only. 'Adult/child' allows you to filter items and activities on the scatterplot by those for adults and those for children.  'Category' allows you to filter by items and activities. Selecting the significance box, marks differences which are statistically significant with a red (rather than blue) circle. Overall necessities shows items and activities which are seen by 50% or more of the whole sample as necessities by outlining the circle in black.

Significant difference:  
Overall necessity:    
Compare by:
Source: PSE UK, Necessities of life survey, 2012


You will see that for all the comparisons, the points on the graph overwhelmingly follow the 45° line showing high levels of agreement. There are some differences between the various pairs being compared but relatively few where those differences are statistically significant.

For all pairings, the vast majority of points fall in the top right or bottom left quadrants (that is both groups are agreed as to whether the item is or is not a necessity). Of those items and activities seen by one group as a necessity but not the other (those in the top left and bottom right quadrants), there are only a very few where the differences are significant and even fewer where that items and activity is seen as a necessity by the whole sample (an overall necessity).

You can see, for example, that:

  • Men and women do not differ significantly on any of the child items thought necessities by either group. And there are only four adult items thought to be necessities by one group but not the other: 48% of men think two pairs of all-weather shoes is a necessity and 59% of women and 41% of men think having family or friends round once a month is a necessity compared to 50% of women, while 52% of men think replacing worn out clothes with new (not second-hand ones) is a necessity and 41% of women and 50% of men think that having a small amount of money to spend on yourself each week(not your family) is a necessity and 35% of females.
  • Education level makes a little more difference but not much. Graduates and those with no qualifications disagree over only three adult items thought necessities by a majority of the overall population. Graduates think regular payments to an occupational or private pension and taking part in sporting activities are necessities, but those with no qualifications do not. Those with no qualifications think television a necessity; graduates do not. There are four child items seen as necessities overall, which graduates don’t see to be a necessity but those with no qualifications do: money to save, pocket money, going on a school trip and a holiday away from home for one week a year.
  • For those who see themselves as Conservative supporters and those who see themselves as Labour supporters, there are no significant differences for all 46 items and activities for adults. Agreement is also high for the 30 children’s items and activities - there is only one seen as a necessity overall,  where there is significant disagreement: 61% of Labour supporters think children need at least four pairs of trousers, leggings, jeans or jogging bottoms, compared with 48% of Conservative supporters.

Agreement between various groups for both adult and child items and activities is high, but overall it is higher for children than adults. This is reflected in the greater support found overall for child items.

While the overall pattern is one of consensus, there are some groupings which do show more differences than others. You will see that the greatest variation in views as to what is a necessity is by age. Older people see a number of items as more important than younger people. Conversely, with the exception of a few items such as a mobile phone and clothes for a job interview, younger people (16 to 24) are less likely than older people to see items as necessities.

There are also some interesting differences by ethnicity. One is very striking and the difference is large: namely on whether attending a place of worship is a necessity: only 27% of those who class themselves as white think it is while 62% of non-whites do.

Significance is judged using relative risk. For details on the statistical tests used see Why use relative risk.

For a further commentary see Facts and Findings 3: What do we think we need.We will be publishing detailed working papers anaysing these findings shortly.

Survey details

The ‘Necessities of Life’ survey was carried out between May and June 2012 and is based on a sample of 1,447 adults aged 16 or over in the Britain and 1,015 in Northern Ireland. The survey was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in Britain and by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) in Northern Ireland as part of their Omnibus surveys.

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