Friday, 05 February 2016

Holding neighbours' keys It’s sometime since I blogged anything about popular surveys of neighbouring, but this detail offered in a news-related source today caught my eye: ‘29% homeowners aged over-45 leave a key with a neighbour, compared to just 19% aged 25-44 and 18% aged 18-24’. Unfortunately the article seeks to make an issue out of the fact that younger people tend to be less active at neighbouring than do middle-aged and older people – tsk, I know, astonishing – and doesn’t give a total percentage. Thus far, the sponsors of the survey have not made any information about this available on their website. So I’ve dipped back into some of the examples I’ve accumulated over the years from this peculiar popular statistical genre, and I find very little consistency. Here is a summary table of those I came up with, giving percentages of people who let their neighbours hold a set of keys to their home (NB: in several cases the exact question wording is not given): % Source Date Note 63 ICM for BBC 2008 The figure for over 55’s is 68% 55 Neighbourhood Watch 2006 Note that respondents were members of Neighbourhood Watch schemes 45 Fresh Minds for Gumtree 2010 The figure for over 55’s is 59% 31 Up My Street 2010 27 YouGov for Co-Op UK 2010 The figure for over 55’s is 39% 23 Opinium for the Big Lunch 2015 This figure combines responses for ‘Neighbour’ or ‘Friend who lives nearby’ 22 HSBC Neighbours Survey 2012 20 Age UK 2011 12 HSBC 2011 The figure for over 55’s is 23%. A surprising proportion of the links for this information have rotted. Looking at the ‘negative’ side doesn’t seem to help, with a range between 78 and 36 per cent. In a 2013 survey for Swinton Insurance, ‘nearly two thirds of the adults polled said they wouldn’t dream of leaving a house key with a neighbour.’ For Legal and General in 2010 - another insurance company, you notice – ‘78% of respondents said they do not share keys with their neighbours’. For the BBC in 2008 – a more neutral client, you might say - ICM asked ‘How many of your neighbours, if any, would you trust with a spare set of keys?’ The proportion who said ‘None’ was 36 per cent. In the Manchester Neighbourliness study (2004) which I co-authored with Toby Gale, for some reason we did not publish a total figure but we did conclude that ‘the proportion both holding keys and having keys held increases with age, up to the oldest age group. Key holding is more prominent among owner-occupiers than renters… The propensity for holding a neighbour’s key also seems to increase with length of residence’. Looking at the survey data or reports listed above, I note that the ICM-BBC survey had over 1,000 respondents and the one carried out by Fresh Minds had 3,400. All things considered, I think we can place more trust in the higher figures given, but it’s not very...

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