This article describes what we do in work and leisure activities and looks at the balance between them. These were common themes in the national debate on measuring national well-being. The extent and the importance of each type of activity vary between individuals. Getting the right balance across all aspects of work and leisure is important in determining an individual’s well-being.
Do we live to work or work to live? Across the UK people live many different lifestyles based on individual choices, characteristics, personal preferences and circumstances. Individuals divide their time between various tasks and activities, including paid or unpaid employment, volunteering and various leisure activities. What we do in life shapes our lifestyles, our relationships with others and our overall well-being.
In Haworth’s paper Life, Work Leisure and Enjoyment he says that ‘Research into lived experience, work, leisure, and enjoyment is central to our understanding of happiness and well-being’. (Haworth, 2010)
This article is published as part of the ONS Measuring National Well-being Programme. The programme aims to produce accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of the nation - how the UK as a whole is doing.
Many studies have found evidence that those in employment have higher rates of well-being than those who are unemployed.
The proportion of working age people in employment in the UK in October to December 2011 was 70.3 per cent, the unemployment rate was 8.4 per cent and economic inactivity stood at 23.1 per cent.
In April to September 2011, adults in the UK aged 16 and over who were unemployed reported lower well-being (average ratings of 6.5, 6.8 and 6.8 out of 10 respectively for ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happy yesterday’ questions) than those in employment (7.5, 7.8 and 7.4 out of 10 respectively).
Some studies have found that life satisfaction rises as the number of hours worked increases, but this effect can be reversed if these hours are excessive.
The proportion of all those in employment in the UK working more than 45 hours a week decreased by 6.8 per cent between October to December 2011 and October to December 1996.
Women are more likely to than men to work shorter hours. In October to December 2011 in the UK, 9.7 per cent of women work over 45 hours a week compared with 27.8 per cent of men. This is because more women work part time than men.
In 2009/10, 77.8 per cent of employed people in the UK reported being somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their job.
Obtaining the correct balance between work and home can help increase and maintain levels of well-being.
In April and June 2011, 48.4 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain reported relatively low satisfaction with their work-life balance (between 0 and 6 on a scale of 0 to 10).
Some research shows that those who care for others have lower scores for well-being indicators than non-carers.
In 2009/10, the majority of adult carers aged 16 and over in the UK spent less than 35 hours per week undertaking caring responsibilities; for those caring for 35 hours or more, 5 per cent provide less than 50 hours; for 10 per cent time spent varies and 12 per cent provide 50 or more hours.
Studies have questioned whether volunteering improves the happiness and wellbeing of those who volunteer.
In 2010/11, 39 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in England reported that they had formally volunteered at least once in the previous 12 months compared with 55 per cent who had informally volunteered.
In England in 2008/09, 62 per cent of regular formal volunteers were motivated to volunteer because they ‘wanting to improve things/help people’.
Spending time participating in leisure activities can have a positive effect on an individual’s well-being.
In 2009–10, 62.6 per cent of respondents in the UK reported being somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with the amount of leisure time they had.
In 2010/11, the most commonly reported free time activities by adults aged 16 and over in England were watching TV (87.6 per cent), spending time with friends and family (83.5 per cent) and listening to music (73.7 per cent).
During 2010, adults aged 16 and over in the UK spent on average 4 hours 2 minutes daily watching television and 2 hours 53 minutes listening to the radio.
In England in 2010/11, 46.3 per cent of adults aged 16 and over had visited a museum or gallery in the last year, a continuation of the upward trend since 2006/07 (41.5 per cent). Meanwhile, 39.7 per cent had visited a public library, a decrease from 2005/06 (48.2 per cent).
In 2010/11, 56.8 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in England had visited a heritage site as a child compared with 70.7 per cent who visited as an adult.
Engaging in sports and physical activities is thought to have a positive effect on the well-being of those who participate.
In 2010/11, 54.1 per cent of adults aged 16 and over in England had participated in some type of sport or physical activity in the 4 weeks before interview. A higher proportion of men (61.8 per cent) participated than women (46.7 per cent).
In England in 2010/11, 11.6 per cent of adults aged 16 and over had only exercised using a digital exercise device. A higher proportion of women (14.7 per cent) only exercised using a digital exercise device then men (8.3 per cent).
Taking holidays can help to increase an individual’s level of well-being.
In 2010 there were 56 million visits abroad by UK residents. One in three visits (66 per cent) were for holidays, one in five (20 per cent) to visit friends and relatives and one in ten (12 per cent) for business purposes.
In 2010, 119 million trips were made within the UK, nearly half (57 million) were holiday trips, 43 million were to visit friends and relatives and nearly 17 million were business trips.
In Great Britain in 2010, 20 per cent of all trips were for shopping purposes while commuting journeys made up 16 per cent of all trips.
A large part of many adult’s lives, at least between the ages of 16 and 64, is spent either working or looking for employment. This section looks at information related to the labour market, including the trend in the numbers in employment, those unemployed, those who are not active in the labour market, usual hours worked and how satisfied those in employment are with their jobs. In addition there is some analysis of time spent in caring for others.
Various studies have been conducted regarding the relationship between well-being and employment status. In general many of these agree that those in employment have higher rates of well-being than those who are unemployed. ‘Studies consistently show a large negative effect of individual unemployment on Subjective Well-Being. Models which treat life satisfaction scales as a continuous variable, tend to find that the unemployed have around 5–15% lower scores than the employed (e.g. Di Tella et al., 2001; Frey & Stutzer, 2000, 2002; Helliwell, 2003; Stutzer, 2004).’ (Dolan, Peasgood, White, 2008).
It has also been suggested that one of the reason for this is that the structure and purpose of employment plays a factor in improving well-being. ‘The social psychologist Maria Jahoda (1982, 1984, 1986, Haworth 1997 Chapter 2) in her ground breaking analysis of employment and unemployment, argued for the centrality of the social institution of employment in providing five categories of psychological experience which are conducive to well-being and that, to the extent that the unemployed are deprived of these experiences, this contributes to the decline in their well-being. These experiences are: time structure, social contact, collective effort or purpose, social identity or status and regular activity’ (Haworth, 2010).
Over the last 10 years, the proportion of people of working age who are economically active has been quite stable. Since 2008 there has been a shift from employment to unemployment. Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that in the UK in October to December 2011 the proportion of working age (16 to 64) people in employment was 70.3 per cent, slightly down from 70.5 per cent for the same quarter of the previous year and also lower than it was in October to December 2001 (72.6 per cent) (Figure 1). In the same period the unemployment rate1 was 8.4 per cent, up from 7.9 per cent for the same quarter of the previous year and 5.2 per cent in October to December 2001. Economic inactivity2 stood at 23.1 per cent in October to December 2011, down from the 23.4 per cent the same period in both the previous year and October to December 2001. (ONS, 2012a)
In October to December 2011, male employment stood at 75.3 per cent down from 75.7 per cent in the same period the previous year and a decrease from 79.1 per cent in October to December 2001. Male unemployment was 9.0 per cent, up from 8.5 per cent in October to December 2010 and 5.7 per cent in the same period of 2001. Male inactivity was 17.1 per cent in October to December 2011, slightly up from 17.0 per cent in the same period of 2010 and an increase from 16.0 per cent in 2001. Over the same time periods female employment stood at 65.4 per cent in 2011, a slight increase from 65.3 per cent in 2010 and down from 66.2 per cent in 2001. Female unemployment was 7.7 per cent in October to December 2011, up from 7.2 per cent in 2010 and 4.5 per cent 2001. Female economic inactivity was 29.1 per cent in 2011, down from 29.6 per cent in October to December 2010 and 30.6 per cent in 2001.The estimated percentage of those aged 16 and over who were unemployed in October to December 2011, at 8.4 per cent, was at its highest level since July to September 1995. Unemployment rates for men (9.0 per cent) is the highest proportion since January to March 2010 and for women (7.7 per cent) is the highest since January to March 1994.
The LFS report ‘Older workers in the labour market - 2011’ also showed that over the past decade an increasing number of older people (those aged 65 and over) are in work. This increase was in both full-time and part-time employment. Of those aged 65 and over in October to December 2010, 2.7 per cent (270,000) worked full-time, up from 1.2 per cent in January to March 2001 and 6.1 per cent (600,000) worked part-time, an increase from 3.4 per cent in January to March 2001. The 870,000 workers aged 65 and over made up 3.0 per cent of all workers in October to December 2010. This percentage has doubled over the last decade when it was 1.5 per cent in January to March 2001, with 412,000 people aged 65 and over in work. For further information see ‘Older workers in the labour market – 2011’. (ONS, 2011a)
A release on young people covering employment rates since 1992 for those in and out of education compared to older people, the types of jobs that young people in or out of education are doing and the pay differences between young and older workers was released on 29 February 2012. For further information see ‘Young people in work – 2012’. (ONS, 2012b)
In October to December 2011 the LFS showed there were almost 9.3 million people aged 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (that is not in employment and not available or looking for work). Of the economically inactive population, almost a quarter (24.5 per cent) are students, another quarter are looking after the family or home (24.9 per cent) and a third quarter are long term sick (22.7 per cent). Almost 16.5 per cent of the economically inactive population are retired, 1.8 per cent are temporarily sick, 0.7 per cent are discouraged workers and 8.8 per cent are inactive for other reasons. Just over 7 million (75.6 per cent) of economically inactive people do not want a job compared to over 2 million (24.4 per cent) who want a job but are unavailable for work.
Interactive maps are available showing the percentage of economically active and inactive residents at local authority level.
Results from analysis of the subjective well-being questions asked on the Annual Population Survey (APS) between April and September 2011 support the theory that in the UK adults aged 16 and over who are unemployed report lower well-being than those who are in employment. The average ratings for the ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happy yesterday’ questions were significantly lower for unemployed people (6.5, 6.8 and 6.8 out of 10 respectively) than for employed people (7.5, 7.8 and 7.4 out of 10 respectively). The results also demonstrated that the length of time in unemployment led to lower average ratings, with subjective well-being decreasing as the duration of unemployment increased. For example, the average rating for ‘life satisfaction’ was 6.9 out of 10 for people who had been unemployed for up to 6 months, decreasing to 6.2 out of 10 for those unemployed for 6 to 12 months, and to 6.0 out of 10 for people whose length of unemployment exceeded 12 months. For further information and data see: Measuring Subjective Wellbeing in the UK, Analysis of experimental subjective well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, April - September 2011 (ONS, 2011b)
While employment and unemployment can have an effect on well-being, work can also have an effect on our health as will be discussed in the Measuring National Well-being: Health to be published later this year.
The unemployment rate is calculated, in accordance with international guidelines, as the percentage of all economically active people aged 16-64.
Economically inactive include people who are neither in employment or unemployment. This includes those looking after a home, retired or permanently unable to work.
Some studies find that life satisfaction rises as hours worked increases and that there are links with lower satisfaction amongst men who work part time hours. While other studies have found no such links. However Meier and Stutzer (2006) found ‘an inverse U-shaped curve between life satisfaction and hours worked (including when fixed effects are controlled for) suggesting that well-being rises as hours worked rise but only up to a certain point before it then starts to drop as hours become excessive’. (Dolan, Peasgood, White, 2008)
According to the LFS, of all those in employment in the UK in October to December 2011, 1.6 per cent worked less than 6 hours per week, 6.8 per cent worked 6 to 15 hours per week, 20.2 per cent worked 16 to 30 hours a week, 52.1 per cent worked 31 to 45 hours per week and 19.4 per cent worked over 45 hours per week (Figure 2). Since comparable records began in April to June 1992 there has been a downwards trend in those usually working 6 to 15 hours with an overall fall of 1.4 per cent. Over the same period those working 16 to 30 hours have shown an overall increase of 6.7 per cent. Those working 31 to 45 hours is at the same level now as 20 years ago (52.1 per cent) although the level dropped to 48.5 per cent in 1996 and steadily increased to 53.7 per cent in 2009 before beginning to fall again. Those working over 45 hours has shown a sharp downwards trend since 1996 with an overall decrease of 6.8 per cent since October to December 1996. Lastly those working less than 6 hours have remained stable over the last 20 years with levels remaining between 1.6 and 2.1 per cent.
Females are more likely than males to work shorter hours. In October to December 2011, 2.4 per cent of females worked less than 6 hours per week compared with 0.8 per cent of males (Figure 3). The percentage of females working 6 to 15 hours a week was 10.4 per cent compared with 3.6 per cent of males. A further 32.1 per cent of females work 16 to 30 hours a week in comparison with 9.9 per cent of males; 45.4 per cent of females compared with 57.9 per cent of males worked 31 to 45 hours a week and 9.7 per cent of females work over 45 hours compared with 27.8 per cent of males.
An analysis of hours worked in the Labour Market released in December 2011 showed that, in the second quarter of 2011, the average number of usual hours worked for people in employment in the UK stood at around 36.3 per week, down 4.7 per cent from 38.1 hours per week in 1992. This change was driven by a mixture of structural changes in the economy, and more flexibility in the hours chosen by employees or offered by employers (including more part-time working). For further information and data about hours worked in the Labour Market see 'Hours worked in the Labour Market- 2011’. (ONS, 2011c)
It could be suggested that the satisfaction with hours worked is dependent on whether the number of hours worked are voluntarily chosen by the individuals working them. From an individual’s perspective, a lowering of underemployment and overemployment1 may benefit physical and psychological well-being. According to the analysis of the LFS ‘Characteristics of the underemployed and the overemployed in the UK’ between Q1 2001 and Q1 2010 (not seasonally adjusted) underemployment levels declined gradually from the beginning of the decade until 2005, when they began to increase. However, overemployment increased gradually from 2000 until 2003 and then began to drop slightly until 2005. There was a small peak in overemployment in Q4 2007, but this was followed by a sharper decline up to Q2 2009. This could be because labour demand (hours of work required by employers) decreased as the economy contracted resulting in more people being underemployed as they were working fewer hours than preferred. For further information see ‘The Economic and Labour Market Review, Vol 4 No7’. (ELMR, 2010)
Links to further Labour Market publications which you might find useful can be found in the notes section below.
For Further Labour Market information you may find the below publications and links useful:
Job satisfaction describes how content an individual is with his/her job. It is necessary for the large majority of those in the workforce to work, but each individual’s satisfaction with their job varies. There are several sources of information which can be used to examine satisfaction with jobs.
|Somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied||68.8||70.0||71.9||77.8|
|Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied||15.7||15.6||15.6||7.0|
|Table source: British Panel Household Survey/Understanding Society|
According to Understanding Society (US) in the UK in 2009/10 77.8 per cent of employed people are somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their job (Table 1). In 2009/10, 7.0 per cent stated that they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their job. A further 15.2 per cent stated that they were somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied with their jobs. The proportions who were somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their job in response to the earlier British Household Panel Study (BHPS) were 71.9 per cent in 2008/09: this had increased gradually from 68.8 per cent in 2002/03. Note that comparisons between the 2009/10 US results and the earlier BHPS results should be treated with care as there is some variation in the samples, surveys and questions. (US, 2011)
Respondents in the April and June 2011 ONS Opinions Survey were asked the question ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your work situation?’ Of those surveyed, 37.7 per cent stated that they had low satisfaction (between 0 and 6 on a scale of 0 to 10) with their work situation. A further 29.0 per cent stated that they had medium satisfaction (between 7 and 8 on the scale) with their work situation and 33.3 per cent had high satisfaction (9 to 10 on the scale). The same survey showed that 40.1 per cent of respondents had low satisfaction with the amount of time they had to do the things they like doing, 33.3 per cent had medium satisfaction and 26.6 per cent had high satisfaction. (ONS, 2011d)
Aspects of work appear to be rated differently in Britain and in the United States, according to findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for the United Kingdom. When the United States and the UK are compared across six key areas of wellbeing, the UK score lower than the USA with the largest difference being in workers' perceptions of their workplaces. Gallup classifies those who answer yes to all four items in the Work Environment Index as having a good work environment. In total, 35 per cent of UK workers report having a good work environment compared with 47 per cent of American workers and UK employees give their workplaces lower ratings than USA workers across all four work environment measures. In the UK less than half who work for an employer say their supervisor is more like a partner than a boss (42.1 per cent), compared with the majority of USA workers (55.8 per cent). UK workers are also less likely than those in the USA to say that they are satisfied with their job and that they get to use their strengths at work, 87.7 per cent of USA respondents stated they were satisfied with the job they did, compared with 83.8 per cent of UK respondents, while 84.4 per cent of USA respondents stated they got to use their strengths to do what they did best everyday compared with 80.3 per cent of UK respondents. Finally, 78.7 per cent of US respondents agreed that their supervisor always creates an open/ trusting environment compared with 77.1 per cent in the UK1. (Gallup, 2011)
There are 1,440 minutes in every day. The 2005 Time Use Survey showed that in 2005 adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain spent on average 491 minutes (8 hours, 11 minutes) per day sleeping, 170 minutes (2 hours 50 minutes) on paid work, 82 minutes (1 hour 22 minutes) eating and drinking and 44 minutes per day on personal care such as washing and dressing. This means that over a third of our day (36 per cent) is spent sleeping /resting, a fifth (23 per cent) is spent on free time, 13 per cent is spent on paid work /study, 13 per cent on domestic work, 9 per cent is spent on meals and personal care and the remaining 6 per cent is spent travelling. It should be noted that these averages include all those aged 16 and over whether they work or not. (ONS, 2005)
Obtaining and maintaining the correct balance between working life and home life can be beneficial to an individuals overall well-being. ‘It is plausible to expect individual differences to condition the impact of work–family balance on individual well-being and work outcomes. For example, work imbalance may have more severe effects on quality of life for some individuals than for others.’ (Greenhaus, Collins, Shaw, 2002)
Figure 4: How satisfied are you with the balance between the time you spend on your paid work and the time you spend on other aspects of your life? (1),(2)
Figure 4 illustrates the results from the June 2011 Opinions survey when respondents were asked the question ‘How satisfied are you with the balance between the time you spend on your paid work and the time you spend on other aspects of your life’. Nearly half of those surveyed (48.4 per cent) reported relatively low satisfaction with their work-life balance (between 0 and 6 on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 equals not at all and 10 equals completely). A further 36.6 per cent stated that they had medium satisfaction (between 7 and 8 on the scale) with their work-life balance while 15.1 per cent had high satisfaction (9 to 10 on the scale). (ONS, 2011d)
According to a quarterly survey among UK employees, conducted in June 2011, commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the proportion of employees agreeing or strongly agreeing they achieve the right work-life balance has increased to 58 per cent from 56 per cent for the previous quarter. Voluntary sector employees are most likely to agree this is the case (60 per cent), followed by those in the private sector (59 per cent) and those in the public sector (53 per cent). Men are significantly less likely to agree they achieve the right work-life balance (53 per cent) than women (64 per cent). People working in small organisations are more likely to agree they achieve the right balance between their work and home lives than those employed by medium-sized or large organisations. Sole traders are most likely to agree this is the case. In all, 35 per cent of employees agree or strongly agree that their organisation provides them with support to help them manage their work-life balance, with public sector employees most likely to agree this is the case (39 per cent), followed by those in the voluntary sector (36 per cent) and those in the private sector (34 per cent). Just over a third (35 per cent) of employees agreed that their manager provides support to help them manage their work-life balance. Public sector employees are most likely to agree this is the case (46 per cent) with private sector staff least likely to (33 per cent). (CIPD, 2011)
Apart from paid employment individuals spend time on things which might be considered as ‘unpaid work’ as well as being other aspects of what people do and value. These include informal care for those who need help and both formal and informal volunteering.
There has been little research conducted into the effect that providing care has on the carers well-being however, ‘The evidence from the few studies that examined the effects of the amount of time engaged in informal care-giving suggests that more care is associated with worse GHQ1 scores (Hirst, 2003, 2005), lower happiness (Marks, Lambert, & Choi, 2002; van den Berg & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, forthcoming) and more depressive symptoms (Marks et al., 2002)’. (Dolan, Peasgood, White, 2008)
It is difficult to identify carers as a sub-group of the population. Although there are 2.3 million inactive people who look after family or the home, not all those provide care for other people. Also some of those who currently care for someone are active in the labour force.
According to the 2009/10 Family Resource survey most adult carers aged 16 and over are employed (31 per cent full time, 14 per cent part time) or self-employed (5 per cent full time, 3 per cent part time), rather than unemployed (4 per cent) or retired (23 per cent), permanently sick or disabled (6 per cent), or classed under another form of economic inactivity (14 per cent). The majority of all carers spend less than 35 hours per week undertaking their caring responsibilities: 27 per cent less than 5 hours; 34 per cent 5, but less than 20 hours; 7 per cent 20, but less than 35 hours; and 5 per cent for whom it varies, but less than 35 hours. Of those undertaking caring responsibilities of 35 hours or more per week, 5 per cent provide at least 35 but less than 50 hours; for 10 per cent time spent varies but is more than 35 hours; and more than 1 in 10 provide 50 or more hours per week (12 per cent). For further information and data about statistics see: ‘Family Resource Survey 2009-10’. (DWP, 2010)
Volunteering takes many forms and is performed by a wide range of people. It could be said that volunteering and helping others improves the happiness and wellbeing of the volunteers, but is this the case or are happier people more likely to volunteer in the first place? Furthermore, although Thoits and Hewitt (2001) did find a positive relationship between well-being and volunteering ‘it also seemed to be the case that happier people tended to do more voluntary work, questioning the argument that volunteering is the cause of greater well-being’ (Dolan, Peasgood, White, 2008).
It has also been stated that volunteers tend to have more favourable human, cultural and social capital resources than non-volunteers and that all these are indicators of higher well-being (Choi, Kim, 2010)
|At least once a month|
|At least once in last year|
|Table source: Citizenship Survey - Department for Communities and Local Government|
Informal volunteering: Giving unpaid help as an individual to people who are not relatives.
Formal volunteering: Giving unpaid help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment.
Participated in either formal or informal volunteering.
According to the Citizenship Survey in England in 2010/11, 39 per cent of adults aged 16 and over reported that they had volunteered formally1 at least once in the 12 months prior to interview, a smaller proportion than in all years between 2003 and 2007/08 but unchanged compared with 2008/09 and 2009/10 (Table 2). Twenty-five per cent of people reported that they volunteered formally at least once a month in 2010/11, a lower level than all years between 2001 and 2007/08 but unchanged compared with 2008/09 and 2009/10. In 2010/11, levels of informal volunteering2, both in the previous year and on a regular basis, were higher than levels of formal volunteering. Fifty five per cent of people volunteered informally at least once in the 12 months prior to interview, and 29 per cent volunteered informally at least once a month. As with informal volunteering during the previous year, the level of monthly informal volunteering (29 per cent) was also lower than in all years prior to 2009/10 (when levels ranged from 34 per cent to 37 per cent). This followed a notable decline between 2008/09 and 2009/10 (from 35 per cent to 29 per cent). (DCLG, 2011)
In England in 2010/11, 39 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women engaged in formal volunteering. Those aged 35 to 49 years volunteered the most with 43 per cent, followed by 42 per cent for 50- to 64-year-olds, 41 per cent for 65- to 74-year-olds, 38 per cent for 16- to 25-year-olds, 33 per cent for 26- to 34-year-olds, and 28 per cent among those aged 75 years and over.
In Northern Ireland in 2007, 21 per cent of adults aged 16 and over were formal volunteers, this equates to an estimated 282,067 individuals. Informal volunteers accounted for 35 per cent of the individuals surveyed of which almost a third were also formal volunteers (31 per cent). This equates to an estimated 470,111 individuals who had been engaged as informal volunteers over the last 12 months when questioned in 2007. An estimated 145,734 individuals were both formal and informal volunteers. Females were more likely than males to be formal volunteers. As a proportion of all formal volunteers 6 out of every 10 were females (61 per cent). (VDA, 2007)
A Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) working paper discusses the selection of methods of measuring and definitions of volunteering. It suggests that for the purposes of academic research and policy analysis and decision making there is considerable variation in the estimates derived from different surveys. Estimates range between 20 per cent and 50 per cent as the lower and upper bounds of annual involvement in volunteering (inclusive definition3), and between 10 per cent and 30 per cent for involvement on a monthly basis (on restrictive definitions4). For an overview of data and sources of information about volunteering in the UK see 'Individual voluntary participation in the United Kingdom: an overview of survey information’, TSRC working paper 6. (TSRC, 2011)
According to the 2008/09 Citizenship survey the most popular motivation for regular formal volunteers in England to start volunteering was ‘wanting to improve things/help people’ (62 per cent), feeling ‘the cause was really important’ to them (40 per cent), wanting to ‘meet new people/make friends’ (33 per cent). People started volunteering because they had spare time (33 per cent) and 32 per cent wanted to make use of existing skills. The most common benefit cited by regular formal volunteers was ‘getting satisfaction from seeing the results’ (65 per cent); ‘enjoying it’ (64 per cent), meeting people and making friends (55 per cent), it gave them a ‘sense of personal achievement’(32 per cent), and it gave them a chance to do things they were good at (30 per cent). (DCLG, 2009)
Formal volunteering: Giving unpaid help through groups, clubs or organisations to benefit other people or the environment.
Informal volunteering: Giving unpaid help as an individual to people who are not relatives.
Definitions of volunteering vary through different surveys, however an inclusive definition usually relies on a basic survey question clarifying whether the respondent did unpaid voluntary work during 12 months preceding the survey thereby approximating annual rate of involvement in volunteering.
Definitions of volunteering vary through different surveys, however a restrictive definition focuses on those who did unpaid voluntary work with frequency of at least once a month.
Roberts (1999) provides one definition of leisure as ‘Existing in what is left over; in time that remains when paid work and other obligatory activities have been done,’. (Roberts, 1999)
Therefore, leisure, or free time, is a period spent on non-compulsory activities when individuals can choose to do the things they enjoy according to their preferences and lifestyles. Spending time participating in leisure activities and doing the things they enjoy can have a positive effect on an individual’s well-being. ‘Participation in both physical and non- physical leisure activities has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, produce positive moods and enhance self-esteem and self-concept, facilitate social interaction, increase general psychological wellbeing and life satisfaction, and improve cognitive functioning’. (Haworth, 2010)
|Somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied||60.6||58.1||62.9||62.6|
|Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied||18.8||19.0||18.7||12.8|
|Table source: British Panel Household Survey/Understanding Society|
The Understanding Society Survey (US) asked respondents ‘How dissatisfied or satisfied are you with the amount of leisure time you have’. In the UK, in 2009–10, 62.6 per cent of respondents reported that they were somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied (Table 3), 12.8 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and 24.7 per cent were somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied. In the earlier British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) there was an increase in those who were somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied with the amount of leisure time they had from 60.6 per cent in 2002/03 to 62.9 per cent in 2008/09. It should be noted that there are some issues of comparability between the earlier BHPS and those from US. (US, 2011)
Data from the Taking Part Survey show that in England in 2010/11 the most commonly reported free time activity is watching TV (87.6 per cent of adults aged 16 and over), followed by spending time with friends or family (83.5 per cent) and listening to music (73.7 per cent) (Figure 5). There was however some variation with age. The same three most common activities were reported for all age groups from 25 to 64. The proportion reporting reading as one of their activities increased with age, so that is was the third most popular for those aged 65 and over, while listening to music decreased with age so that it was the second most common activity for those aged 16 to 24. (DCMS, 2011)
The percentages who reported spending time with family and friends, using the internet/ emailing, going to the cinema, going to pubs/clubs/bars, or playing sport or exercising all also decreased with age.
The three most commonly reported activities were the same for men as for all individuals (87.4 per cent watching TV, 80.2 per cent spending time with family and friends and 73.0 per cent listening to music). However for women listening to music is the fourth most reported activity (74.4 per cent) while shopping is the third (a top three of 87.8 per cent watching TV, 86.7 per cent spending time with family and friends and 81.4 per cent shopping).
As seen in Figure 5 spending time with family and friends is a popular way for individuals to use their free time; this use of leisure time could be particularly beneficial to their well-being as ‘It would appear that, overall, socialising with family and friends is positively associated with Subjective Well-being (e.g. Lelkes, 2006; Pichler, 2006) and that this positive effect applies into older age (Ritchey, Ritchey, & Dietz, 2001), and remains even when controlling for levels of life satisfaction in previous periods (Baker et al., 2005)’. (Dolan, Peasgood, White, 2008). The relationship between spending time with friends and family and individuals’ well-being is further investigated in the Reporting on National Well-being article ‘Our Relationships’
In 2009, according to the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, 73 per cent of adults aged 18 and over in Northern Ireland watched TV, DVD’s or video’s daily. More men (74 per cent) watched these than women (72 per cent). Those aged between 35 and 44 watched least (59 per cent) compared with 82 per cent of those aged 65 years and over. For other age groups 68 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds watched daily compared with 74 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds, 77 per cent of 45- to 54-year-olds, and 78 per cent of those aged 55 to 64. (NILT, 2009)
Also in Northern Ireland in 2009, 57 per cent of adults listened to music, 34 per cent spent time on the internet or computer and 27 per cent read books on a daily basis. Additionally when looking at activities adults engaged in at least several times a month, 36 per cent spent time shopping, 36 per cent got together with relatives, 40 per cent got together with friends and 11 per cent when to the movies.
|Internet - fixed||15||28|
|Phone - fixed||15||12|
|Phone - mobile||7||13|
|Table source: Ofcom / BARB / RAJAR / Nielsen Netratings (home use only)|
According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report, television and radio continued to play a large role in the total time consumers spend on communications services each day during 2010 (Table 4). Adults aged 16 and over in the UK spent 242 minutes (4 hours 2 minutes) daily watching television on a TV set, up by 23 minutes from 2005, while radio accounted for 173 minutes (2 hours 53 minutes) per day, down by 12 minutes over the same period. Fixed-line calls accounted for 12 minutes per person per day, while a similar amount of time (13 minutes) was spent on mobile phone calls and texting on a mobile. Internet activities undertaken on a fixed internet connection (using web and applications) experienced the largest increase in average daily use, nearly doubling from 15 minutes in 2005 to 28 minutes in 2010. (Ofcom, 2011)
Arts and culture encompasses a wide selection of activities in which people both participate, such as playing a musical instrument, and engage, for example attending a musical performance. The distinction between participating and being in the audience is blurring with the connectivity provided by the latest generation of mobile phones and other web-enabled devices. The arts and culture are popular with many choosing to spend their free time watching television, listening to music, visiting historic sites, museums and galleries, going to the cinema, attending concerts, participating in arts and crafts or playing musical instruments.
Some research studies have found links between arts and culture and wellbeing, for instance that culture helps to strengthen social ties in the community and therefore contributes towards individual and organisational self-esteem which ultimately nurtures well-being (European Commission 2009) and that ‘Claims that the arts are good for individuals take many forms. The arts have been said to improve health, mental well-being, cognitive functioning, creative ability and academic performance’. (Guetzkow, 2002)
In 2010/11 according to the Taking Part Survey in England, 46.3 per cent of adults aged 16 and over had visited a museum or gallery in the last year: a significant increase from 2008/09 (43.4 per cent) and a continuation of the upward trend since 2006/07 (41.5 per cent) (Figure 6). Meanwhile, 39.7 per cent of adults had visited a public library in the last year, a decrease from 2005/06 (48.2 per cent). However the steady decline in library visits observed between 2005/06 and 2008/09 has now stabilised, with no significant change observed between 2008/09 (41.1 per cent) and 2010/11 (39.7 per cent). In 2010/11, 70.7 per cent of adults had visited a heritage site in the last year, relatively unchanged from 2005/06 (69.9 per cent) while 76.2 per cent of adults had engaged with the arts1 at least once in the last year, unchanged from 2005/06 (76.3 per cent). In 2010/11, 4.0 per cent of adults visited an archive, not a significant change from 3.8 per cent in 2009/10 but a significant decrease from 5.9 per cent in 2005/06.
The Continuous Household Survey in Northern Ireland in 2010/11 shows that 41 per cent of adults aged 16 and over visited a museum in the previous 12 months, an increase from 32 per cent in 2009/10 and 2007/08 and up from 26 per cent in 2008/09. In 2010/11, 32 per cent visited a public library at least once a year, a steady increase from 29 per cent in 2009/10, 26 per cent in 2008/09 and 27 per cent in 2007/08. Also in Northern Ireland, 80 per cent of adults engaged with the arts in 2010/11, an increase from 76 per cent in 2009/10 and 71 per cent in 2008/09 and 2007/08. In 2010/11, 52 per cent of adults, aged 16 and over read for pleasure, 50 per cent participated in sport and physical activity in the previous 12 months, 6 per cent participated in painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture, 5 per cent participated in dance (other than ballet), 8 per cent played a musical instrument for their own pleasure and 3 per cent played a music instrument to an audience2. (DCALNI, 2010)
Data from the Scottish Household Survey show that in 2010, 85 per cent of adults aged 16 or over were engaged in culture in the last 12 months. Cultural engagement is defined as those who have participated in a cultural activity or who have attended or visited a cultural event or place. Eighteen per cent visited a historic site in 2010 which was, down from 20 per cent in 2007 . Thirty per cent of adults visited museums, galleries and archives in 2010 (unchanged since 2007) and 28 per cent visited a library - a decrease from 31 per cent in 2007. In 2010, 61 per cent of adults read for pleasure, while 51 per cent went to the cinema and 43 per cent went to the theatre or music concerts. Seventeen per cent of adults engaged in arts and crafts and 10 per cent played a musical instrument, while 29 per cent engaged in theatre, dance or classical music, 26 per cent played a musical instrument, acted, sung or danced, 13 per cent wrote stories, poems, plays or music, and 9 per cent participated in painting or drawing3. (SG, 2010)
The Arts in Wales survey shows that between 2005 and 2010 the proportion of the Welsh adults aged 16 and over engaging in the arts increased with 86 per cent normally attending arts events at least once per year, an increase from 76 per cent in 2005, and 39 per cent normally participating in an art form at least once a year, an increase from the 20 per cent recorded in 2005. Over this period the largest increases were recorded for attendance at cinema, live music events, art galleries and exhibitions, plays and musicals and participation in visual arts and crafts, music and dance. Women were more likely to attend and participate in the arts (90 per cent) than men (87 per cent). (ACW, 2010)
Figure 7: Adult and childhood participation in culture and sport (1), (2), 2010/11
Figure 7 shows that in 2010/11 a higher proportion of adults aged 16 and over in England had participated in culture and sport when they were children than as an adult with the exception of visiting a heritage site where 56.8 per cent of adults had visited a heritage site as a child while 70.7 per cent had visited as an adult in the last 12 months. In England in 2010/11, 46.3 per cent of adults aged 16 and over, had visited a museum or gallery in the last 12 months while 57.7 per cent had visited as a child aged 11 to 15. There was a relationship between visiting museums or galleries as a child and as an adult. Of those who had visited a museum or gallery as a child 57.3 per cent had also visited as an adult, but among those adults who had not visited as a child, only 32.5 per cent had visited as an adult. For visiting heritage sites, the influence of childhood participation is less marked than it is for other sectors. Among those adults who had visited a heritage site as a child, 82.3 per cent also visited as an adult. However, 59.0 per cent of adults who did not visit a heritage site as a child had visited as an adult. In 2010/11, 53.0 per cent of adults had participated in sport in the last 4 weeks (prior to interview); 86.0 per cent had done so as a child. Among those adults who had participated in sport as a child, 56.4 per cent had also participated in the last 4 weeks. Meanwhile, among those adults who did not play sport as child, only 36.3 per cent had participated in the last 4 weeks. (DCMS, 2011)
Participated in art activities or attended art events.
Please note that figures for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are not directly comparable with each other due to different surveys, methods, selections and questions.
Note that there are considerable differences between the percentage of adults who attended heritage sites from DCMS "Taking Part Survey" and the Scottish Household Survey figures on the “percentage who have visited a place of historic or archaeological interest in the last 12 months". This is likely to be due to differences in the ways in which questions were asked and how variables were defined between the 2 surveys.
As we can see in Figure 7 many adults and children participate in sport or physical activities in their free time where they aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide themselves with entertainment either through casual or organised participation
There have been a number of studies regarding the effect of exercise and physical activities on the well-being of those who engage and participate in them. ‘The psychological effects associated with physical activity have been the topic of numerous scientific studies, conducted mainly since the early 1970s. The general concIusion from this research is that physical activity can enhance the participants' sense of well-being’. (Biddle, Ekkekakis, 2005). The outcome of many of these studies seem to agree that there is a correlation between the two: ‘Establishing one or more plausible mechanisms could help to show that the relationship between physical activity and well-being goes beyond statistical association, providing evidence that physical activity can, in fact, cause positive changes in well-being’. (Biddle, Ekkekakis, 2005)
The Taking Part survey shows that in England in 2010/11, 54.1 per cent of adults, aged 16 and over had participated in some type of sport or recreational physical activity in the last four weeks while 71.7 per cent had done so in the last 12 months (Figure 8). A higher proportion of men participated in sport or recreational physical activity than women, both in the last four weeks (61.8 per cent compared with 46.7 per cent) and in the last 12 months (77.7 per cent compared with 65.9 per cent).
In England in 2010/11, the top sport or recreational physical activities1 undertaken in the last four weeks were attending the gym (14.6 per cent); indoor swimming (14.4 per cent); cycling (10.6 per cent); running (7.6 per cent); keep fit, (7.1 per cent); and outdoor football (7.1 per cent).
The most popular activities for adults in the last 12 months were indoor swimming (31.6 per cent); the gym (21.8 per cent); cycling (18 per cent); outdoor swimming (13.6 per cent) snooker, pool, billiards2 (13.5 per cent); and tenpin bowling (13.0 per cent).
In England in 2010/11, 89.7 per cent of all children had participated in sport in the last four weeks prior; 85.4 per cent of 5- to 10-year-olds and 94.5 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds. These figures are not significantly different to 2008/09. Swimming, diving or lifesaving was the most common sport amongst 5- to10-year-old children, with almost half (48.3 per cent) of all children in this age group doing this in the last four weeks. More than a third had played football (35.9 per cent), and more than a quarter (28.0 per cent) had been cycling. Football was the most common sport amongst 11- to 15-year-olds, with half (50.0 per cent) of all children this age group having played in the last four weeks. Basketball (27.3 per cent) was the second most common, followed by swimming, diving or lifesaving (26.6 per cent).
Data from the Continuous Household Survey shows that in Northern Ireland in 2010/11, 50 per cent of adults aged 16 and over participated in sports or recreational physical activities in the last 12 months. Males were more likely to have participated (57 per cent) than females (44 per cent). One in five respondents (20 per cent) participated in swimming3 in the 12 months prior to the survey. This was the most popular sport/physical activity followed by keep fit (15 per cent), golf (10 per cent) and jogging (10 per cent). (DCALNI, 2010)
The Scottish Household Survey shows that in Scotland in 2010, 51 per cent of adults, aged 16 and over participated in sport in the four weeks prior to interview. The most popular activities included swimming (17 per cent), keep fit/aerobics (13 per cent), multigym/weight training (11 per cent) and running and dancing, both at 10 per cent. Males (57 per cent) were more likely to participate than females (46 per cent). (SG, 2010)
In Wales in 2008/09, according the Active Adult Survey run by Sports Council Wales, 56 per cent of adults aged 15 and over participated in sport or physical recreation activity in the four weeks prior to interview. The data suggests a decrease from 2004-05 (59 per cent). Participation decreases with age: 73 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds participated in an activity at least once, compared with 37 per cent of those aged 65 and over. Males (62 per cent) are more likely to participate than females (51 per cent). (SCW, 2009)
In England in 2010/11, 53.0 per cent of adults aged 16 and over, had taken part in active sport in the last four weeks, 64.6 per cent of adults had participated in active sport or used a Wii Fit or similar digital exercise device and 11.6 per cent of adults had only exercised using a Wii Fit or similar digital exercise device (Figure 9). Men (60.4 per cent) reported a higher percentage of active sport participation than women (45.9 per cent). A higher proportion of women (14.7 per cent) only exercised using a digital exercise device than men (8.3 per cent).
For further information on sporting activities in England at Local Authority level see small area estimates of participation.
Gym includes health, fitness, gym or conditioning activities; indoor swimming includes diving; cycling includes cycling for health, recreation, training and competition purposes; running includes jogging, cross-country and road running and keep fit includes aerobics and dance exercise (including exercise bikes).
Does not include bar billiards.
Swimming includes diving; keep fit includes aerobics, yoga and dance exercises; golf includes pitch and putt/putting.
To make use of their free time many people choose to take holidays and travel to take time away from normal employment or education. A holiday can be described as a non-working trip or stay away from one's normal home.
Holidays could be seen as prolonged periods of leisure time and therefore as leisure activities have been said to increase well-being it could be assumed that taking a holiday would also lead to increased levels of well-being; ‘Links have been made between access to and participation in tourism and happiness, quality of life and wellbeing. There is an underlying assumption that holidays are times and spaces in which participants should be happy’. (McCabe, Joldersma, Chunxiao, 2009). Some studies which have been conducted have found some evidence to support this theory, ‘Numerous studies have concentrated on health, wellbeing and quality of life to ascertain if there is a relationship between holidays and measures of subjective or self-reported wellbeing states. Gilbert and Abdullah (2004) found small increases in reported subjective wellbeing (SWB) amongst general population of holidaymakers’. (McCabe, Joldersma, Chunxiao, 2009).
The number and destination of holidays taken and travel for other purposes, such as commuting and business trips, is discussed in this section.
According to data from the International Passenger Survey for UK residents the most common reason for travel to other countries was to take a holiday (Figure 10). Between 1980 and 2005 there was a steady increase in the number of UK residents travelling abroad for all purposes and this growth was generally resilient to challenging economic and social pressures. However a combination of factors, such as difficult economic conditions and unfavourable exchange rates, have led to a levelling off of this growth between 2006 and 2008 and a decline over the past two years. In 2010 there were 56 million visits abroad by UK residents. One in three visits (66 per cent) were for holidays, one in five (20 per cent) to visit friends and relatives and one in ten (12 per cent) for business purposes. Between 2009 and 2010, total visits fell by 5 per cent: with holidays falling by 5 per cent, business trips by 4 per cent and visiting friends and relatives by 6 per cent. However there is a much larger fall in visits when compared with 2008, total visits fell by 19 per cent in 2010 when compared with 2008; holiday visits by 20 per cent, visiting friends and relatives by 12 per cent and business trips by 26 per cent. (ONS, 2011e)
There are differences between residents of the UK and the EU when it comes to holidays and how many holidays are taken. Information in a Eurobarometer report shows that 46 per cent of EU citizens aged 15 and over who had been on holiday during 2010 had made one holiday trip and 26 per cent had taken two such trips. In comparison for UK citizens, 42 per cent had one holiday trip and 27 per cent had taken two. A further 11 per cent of EU holidaymakers had made three holiday trips in 2010 compared with 13 per cent for those in the UK and 9 per cent of EU residents had made four such trips compared to 10 per cent in the UK. Finally for the EU, 6 per cent had taken more than five holidays, while from the UK 8 per cent had five or more holidays. (EB, 2011)
|Holiday, visiting friends or relatives||25.9||23.1||23.5||23.7||22.1|
|Other visits to friends or relatives||23.7||24.7||20.6||20.8||20.6|
|All Visits To Friends Or Relatives||49.6||47.8||44.1||44.4||42.8|
|Attend exhibition/trade show/agricultural||0.7||0.8||0.7||0.7||0.5|
|Conduct paid work/on business||16.6||16.1||15.7||15.5||15.1|
|All Business Travel||19.2||18.8||18.2||18.0||16.9|
|Travel/Transport is my business||0.8||0.4||0.7||0.5||0.6|
|Table source: Visit England/ Visit Wales/ Visit Scotland/ Northern Ireland Tourist Board|
In 2010, 119 million trips were made within the UK (Table 5) a decrease of over 6 million trips compared with 2009, the year of the ‘staycation’, when there had been an increase of almost 9 million holiday trips within the UK compared with 2008. In the UK in 2010 nearly half of all trips (57 million) were holiday trips for pleasure and leisure and many of the other trips (43 million) were made to visit friends and relatives, either as a holiday (22 million) or for other reasons (21 million). There were nearly 17 million business trips made in the UK in 2010, a decrease of just over one million since 2009 and a continuation of the downward trend since 2006. (VE, VW, VS, NITB, 2010)
|Visiting friends at private home||144||123||119||110||109||109||103|
|Visiting friends elsewhere||46||47||49||48||47||48||46|
|Other including just walk||44||42||45||38||44||43||41|
|Table source: National Travel Survey - Department for Transport|
According to the National Travel Survey shopping is the type of trip that people in Great Britain make most often, with an average 193 shopping trips each in 2010, 20 per cent of all trips (Table 6). These trips tend to be shorter than average (4.3 miles in 2010) and therefore shopping only accounted for 12 per cent of distance travelled. Commuting journeys made up 16 per cent of trips and business reasons accounted for a further 3 per cent in 2010. These trips tend to be longer than average, so make up a higher proportion of the average distance travelled, at 20 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Most of the decline in overall trips between 1995/971 and 2010 is because of a fall in shopping and visiting friends. People in Great Britain made 18 per cent fewer shopping trips per year in 2010 than they did in 1995/97 and visits to friends declined by 22 per cent over the same period: the fall entirely due to a decrease in visits to private homes rather than elsewhere. The trend of falling numbers of shopping trips over time is associated with a switch from more frequent, short shopping trips on foot, to longer, less frequent car trips. (DFT, 2011)
On average, females make more trips than males, but males travel much further each year. In 2010, females made 5 per cent more trips than males (984 per year compared with 935). However, males travelled 23 per cent further than females, averaging 7,426 miles a year compared with 6,051 miles.
In 2008-10 on average, Northern Ireland residents travelled 5,976 miles per year over the three-year reporting period. Each person made an average of 905 journeys each year, some 6 per cent less than the average for Great Britain. Twenty two per cent of all journeys in Northern Ireland in 2008–2010 were for leisure purposes (for example to visit friends, to take part in entertainment or sport activities, to go on holiday or day trips), 20 per cent for shopping and 16 per cent for commuting. Journeys to services, such as the bank, doctor or library made up 13 per cent of all journeys. In terms of miles travelled, almost a third (31 per cent) of the total distance travelled was for leisure purposes, just over a fifth (21 per cent) for commuting, 14 per cent for shopping and 11 per cent for personal business. Nearly a tenth (8 per cent) of the total distance travelled was for business travel. (DRDNI, 2010)
The downsides of commuting were mentioned in responses to the National Well-being Debate. However, there is very little research evidence regarding the effect of commuting on well-being. The following comment suggests that commuting time needs to be offset by potential benefits, such as commuters’ level of earnings, the area and the houses in which they live and should take into account whether commuting by car or by public transport. ‘Despite the adversities of commuting, some of its elements can serve as enhancements to well-being, such as privacy, protected time, and the symbolic value of personal vehicles and freedom.’ (Novaco, Gonzalez, 2009)
According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2009 in the UK around three in four, or 75 per cent of workers take less than half an hour to travel from home to work. However, commuting patterns are vastly different between workers in London and those working in the rest of the UK. People working in London, in particular central London, tend to travel longer to get to work, with more than half (56 per cent) needing to commute for more than 30 minutes to get to work every day. By contrast, only 20 per cent of those working in the rest of the UK need to travel for more than 30 minutes to reach their workplace. For further information and data about commuting to work see ‘Commuting to work - 2011’. (ONS, 2011f)
This article is published as part of the ONS Measuring National Well-being Programme.
The programme aims to produce accepted and trusted measures of the well-being of the nation - how the UK as a whole is doing. It is about looking at 'GDP and beyond' and includes:
greater analysis of the national economic accounts, especially to understand household income, expenditure and wealth
further accounts linked to the national accounts, including the UK Environmental Accounts and valuing household production and 'human capital'
quality of life measures, looking at different areas of national well-being such as health, relationships, job satisfaction, economic security, education environmental conditions
working with others to include the measurement of the well-being of children and young people as part of national well-being
measures of 'subjective well-being' - individuals' assessment of their own well-being
headline indicators to summarise national well-being and the progress we are making as a society
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