Thursday, 25 March 2010

Unannounced visits: family, friends, salespeople I remember my old mum used to delight in an unannounced visit, if I happened to be out for a long run or nearby with some time to spare. Many of us live highly-organised lives now though, and we have our technologies to check ahead for convenience. We don't do surprises. Saga recently published results from the Saga Populus Panel survey of over-50s, in which they asked about unexpected visitors popping in. The unsolicited attention of salespeople (nowadays they always start by telling you 'it's alright, I'm not going to try to sell you anything...') is always unfortunate as someone who works at home and my sense is that the practice has increased noticeably in the recession. Thirteen per cent of panel respondents say it happens 'often' and the proportion is higher (17%) in the over-75 age group. But the figures for family (35%) and friends (36%) are encouraging. The regional differences (eg family in London, 25%; in Northern Ireland, 49%) are stark if unsurprising. The survey also asked how well people know their neighbours. Here too the figures are interesting, with just 1% in all age groups and all socio-economic groups saying that they 'don't know them at all'. (See my previous tentative conclusion that for the general population, about 5% of us have no contact with our neighbours). According to the Saga Populus Panel data, about one third of over-50s say they know their neighbours well 'and often socialise together', while 64% say 'we talk and say hello sometimes'. For those over 75, the proportion who say they know their neighbours well and socialise is a stomping 44%. I note that this was an online survey: does this mean the sample is biassed towards people who are more communicative?

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