Anderson, Frank Bechhofer, Lynn Jamieson, David McCrone,
Yaojun Li and Robert Stewart (2002) 'Confidence amid
Uncertainty: Ambitions and Plans in a Sample of Young
Sociological Research Online, vol. 6, no. 4, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/4/anderson.html>
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Received: 29/10/2001 Accepted: 26/2/2002 Published: 28/02/2002
|Year||Age group||% responding positively||N=|
|60 and over||68||79|
|Age||Period of comparison||More/|
|About the same||Less/|
|Financial situation||23-29||5 years||58||24||18||168|
|40 and over||10 years||46||29||26||235|
|40 and over||10 years||32||46||22||235|
|Able to plan||23-29||5 years||67||23||11||168|
|40 and over||10 years||37||37||26||235|
|TTF 20-29||DCS 30- 39||DCS 40-49||DCS 50-59|
|Clear view in last year at school:|
|Percent responding 'Yes'||50||38||35||38|
|Thoughts about working life over next five years|
|Know definitely what want to do||33||19||32||34|
|(and expect will be able to do)||(89)||(83)||(75)||(95)|
|Have a rough idea||39||52||46||32|
|(and expect things will turn out that way)||(54)||(64)||(73)||(68)|
|Not very sure what want to do||26||24||15||15|
|(but expect to be able to get jobs wanted)||(40)||(21)||(30)||(0)|
|Don't know/don't intend to work||2||5||8||19|
|We fell in love and couldn't live without each other||62||80|
|The time had come when I wanted to live with a sexual partner||31||31|
|Rented accommodation became available||21||18|
|I/my partner was pregnant||20||8|
|We'd got enough money together to get a house||15||27|
|I was at a suitable point in my work life||14||22|
|My partner was at a suitable point in his/her work life||11||7|
|I wanted to commit myself to our relationship||66||N/A|
|I/my partner became pregnant unexpectedly||65||39|
|I wanted to start a family before we were too old||33||40|
|We thought we were then in a position to give a child the time and attention he/she needed/deserved||22||45|
|I'd always planned to start a family at that time||19||21|
|We had reached the stage in our lives when we could afford to have a child||13||N/A|
|I felt the time had come when we could manage on only one/a lower income for some time||7||22|
|Class||SMI||Employ status||Making ends meet|
|Ambitions for next 5 years:|
|Percent responding 'Yes||87||87||72||83||67||76||85||79||76||77||79||80|
|Longer term ambitions:|
|Percent responding 'Yes||40||44||43||35||47||49||39||40||54||47||32||52|
|Span of planning (column percent):|
|Year or more||41||24||22||42||36||14||12||31||14||40||20||20|
|Days or less||11||20||32||21||11||39||37||24||30||21||27||27|
|Of those who plan at least for days,|
percent stating that:
|it is likely that plans will succeed||71||77||63||80||65||51||47||69||47||88||59||49|
|have more than one plan at a time||81||67||63||66||67||65||53||68||59||77||63||65|
|plans are not pipe dreams||76||69||58||77||63||54||59||65||59||61||70||61|
|Compared with 5 years ago (column percent):|
|more able to plan||86||79||57||93||51||65||40||72||41||88||66||46|
|neither more or less able to plan||9||18||29||7||37||22||35||21||36||12||32||23|
|less able to plan||6||3||14||0||11||13||25||7||23||0||2||31|
|with children||without children||with children||without children||with children||without children|
|Ambitions for next 5 years:|
|Percent responding 'Yes||79||81||79||95||65||78|
|Longer term ambitions:|
|Percent responding 'Yes||45||45||46||53||37||33|
|Span of planning (column percent):|
|Year or more||14||24||23||68||17||44|
|Days or less||35||21||29||5||31||22|
|Compared with 5 years ago (column percent):|
|more able to plan||55||72||58||83||60||93|
|neither more or less able to plan||22||22||27||17||27||7|
|less able to plan||22||7||15||0||13||0|
2Overall, 40 per cent of women compared with 26 per cent of men said that they found it difficult to make ends meet. This can mainly be attributed to the situation of lone mothers and is picked up under that heading below.
3In TTF the question was asked about ease of making ends meet for the household where there were couples and for the individual where the respondent was single. In DCS the question was related to individuals. For full details of the questionnaires used in the study, see the schedules held by the ESRC Data Archive at the University of Essex and available on-line at www.data-archive.ac.uk.
4The question here was: Which of these statements best describes the way you feel? (a) what happens to me is my own doing; (b) I feel that I have little influence over things that happen to me. This is a standard measure of perceived control derived from Rotter (1966) and is discussed by Warr (1987, p. 30).
5A modest but statistically significant gender difference is observable here: 50 per cent of males but only 37 per cent of females had longer term ambitions of this kind
6The exact wordings of the questions were: 'When you were in your last year at school, did you have any clear view about the type of job you'd like to have later on in life - say by age 40' and 'Now thinking ahead about your working life over the next five years or so, would you say: ... you know definitely what you want to do/ you have a rough idea of how you want things to go/ you're not very sure what you want to do in relation to work in the next five years/ don't intend to work within the next five years'.
7In SCELI, when the DCS 30-39 group were themselves aged 20- 29, 40 per cent of a then slightly larger group of individuals said that they had a clear view in their last year at school, a figure reassuringly similar to the answers that they gave eleven years later.
8Though numbers are small and the differences are not statistically significant, it does seem likely that there were some gender differences here, though not among those who 'knew definitely' what they wanted to do. By contrast, of those who had a rough idea, 60% of men but only 49% of women 'expected that things would turn out that way', and among those who were 'not very sure', 39% of men and 56% of women thought they would have to take whatever jobs came up.
9Graham Crow has, however, suggested to us an important additional reason why people in an insecure world may wish to become owner-occupiers: it provides a greater access to credit and thus an ability to borrow on the basis of the investment.
10For a discussion of the latter among members of our sample, see Jamieson et al (2002) and UK-wide see Ermisch (2000) and Ermisch and Francesconi (2000).
11'I wanted to commit myself to our relationship' was only asked in TTF, and was put last in the list, while 'We fell in love...' was first, thus separating the two responses as far as possible with the aim of minimising cross-contamination.
12The questions were largely identical in the two surveys. However, in addition to some substitutions which did not reach the ten percent threshold, the 1980s question 'I felt that the time had come when we could manage on only one income for a while' was replaced by what was arguably the more appropriate 1990s question 'I felt that the time had come when we could manage on a lower income for a while'. Also 'We thought we were then in a position to give a child the time and attention he/she deserved' was replaced by 'We thought we were then in a position to give a child the time and attention he/she needed', and 'We had reached the stage in our lives when we could afford to have a child' was added to the list.
13There was a marked gender effect here, with 67% of women but only 41% of men responding that they had given not very much or no thought at all to the issue; for comparative data on older age groups see Anderson et al. (2000).
14Endowment insurance may of course be a form of pro-active long-term financial planning rather than defensive and in some cases will have been taken out in connection with house purchase, a topic we have already discussed above.
15This is in addition to a general process of downgrading of aspirations which seems to be a widespread feature of teenage experience (Furlong and Biggart 1999).
16 The question wording was 'Looking back on your life so far, and thinking about what you expected when your were about 16 years old, has it turned out [as you expected]?'
17The question, asked only of those who had ambitions, read 'Do you feel that you have achieved [the long-term] ambitions [that you had when you were about 16]?'
18Standardised mean income (SMI) is a variable derived from reported household income in the case of couples to take into account the number of persons in the household and their age. In the case of single persons we asked for their personal income and have only derived SMI for those living on their own or with their children and no other person. For single people living with their parents or with other adults we do not have a measure of household income because we decided that, given the constraints of interview time, we could not obtain a sufficiently accurate estimate.
19A logistic regression model indicates that income is the crucial variable determining long-term planning in this sample with those whose income is above the median being around four times more likely to report long-term planning than those below the median.
20While these results specifically relate to Kirkcaldy, we see no reason to doubt their wider applicability to much of the UK. The Kirkcaldy travel to work area contains a mix of old declining industry and residential areas alongside newer technology activity and housing especially in Glenrothes New Town. There are also substantial commuting opportunities to Edinburgh. Unemployment has been somewhat above both the Scottish and UK average since the mid-1980s.
21We are grateful to Liz Kenyon for alerting us to this idea.
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