The aim of this report is to profoundly
study the difference in the opinions of the British society about Britain’s
membership in EU, associated with the participants’ age. The report will focus
on the miscellaneous reasons behind these attitudes towards the issue and what
has caused them. Moreover, there are two substantial questions that this report
concentrates on. Firstly, whether there is an association between age groups
and the difference in opinions about Britain remaining in the EU, and if there
is, is it a strong or a weak correlation. And secondly, what are the incentives
for such a connection, or the lack of it.
To begin with, the referendum is a frank
fact and negotiations are held for the exit of Britain of the European Union in
2019. But could we have foreseen this outcome, let’s say 8 years ago, when the
BES was conducted in 2010? Have the attitudes changed because of the political
situation in the country, or is the referendum an independent result?
A more recent YouGov research after the
elections of 2015 (YouGov, 2015) stated that the vote
on the referendum is determined largely by the participants’ age, sex and
educational qualifications. A certain pattern can be discerned – the older the
participants are, the more likely they are of approving Brexit. This evokes the
idea of separation of society by age groups. Here it is important to mention that
the idea of the “divided nation” has been developed by a lot of researchers. In
a paper called “Brexit vote: a divided nation, a divided continent” the author also
claimed that Brexit is mostly favoured by the “less-educated, the poorer and
older voters”, who tend to express anti-immigration opinions as well. (Hobolt, 2017 )
Similarly, a study suggests that the link
between those variables is not the overall discontent of life, but, conversely
to the popular belief, the keystone was the individual financial situation of
the voter. (Liberini, 2017) Another interesting
article from Pierre Nouvelle also shows the tendency of the two youngest
classes (aged 18-29 and 30-49) to be in favour of remaining; whereas, the two
older age groups (50-69 and 70+) tend to support leaving the EU. The author
suggests that even if we assume that 16- and 17-years-olds were “robbed” of
their right to choose the situation would not change as a 40% of them would be
influenced by family members and the referendum result would stay almost
unchanged. (Nouvelle, 2017)
As a consequence, from the above-mentioned
studies it can be inferred as a hypothesis of this report that: (H1) The younger a voter is, the more likely
he or she is to approve of Britain’s membership of the EU, and (H2) The worse one’s financial situation is,
the more favourable the voter will be of the idea of leaving the EU.
Data and Methods
In order to examine rigidly the crux of the
issue, this report uses both quantitative and qualitative methods. The
quantitative part of this report consists of the data of the post-election
British Election Study, 2010. Question 39 was of particular interest of this
report as it explores the percentage of approval and disapproval of Britain’s
remain in the EU. The results of the question were thoroughly analysed with the
help of SPSS crosstabs. The steps of extracting the material needed for the
Excel graph presented in the section “Results” are as follow.
The answer scale of question 39 was set from
“1”to “5”, as “1” to “strongly disapprove” of Britain’s participation in the
EU, to 5 “strongly approve” of it. The people who answered this question were
2932, as the rest were recoded: “-1” (missing) and “-2” (refusal) as system
missing. In order to get even more concise results, recoding of the dependent
variable has been rendered as follows: “1”- “2” as “1”, or “approve”; “2” as
“neither approve or disapprove”; and finally, “4”- “5” as “3”, “disapprove”.
This decision was influenced by the sole focus on this report between the clash
of age groups and their approval or disapproval of the problematic topic.
As this report is using a bivariate type of
analysis, age was chosen as an independent variable. Next, the variable was
recoded into five age groups: 18-30, 31-43, 44-56, 57-69, and 70-97, while
excluding those who refused to answer. The aim of this classification is to
reflect truthfully and in a more detailed way, the different opinions of the
different generations discussed earlier. Lastly, a crosstab with row
percentages and a Chi-square was created with a level of confidence 99%.
Furthermore, for the qualitative approach
this report used is a semi-structured interview with Jack, a 28-year-old male.
This particular person was picked firstly because of his British origin and
secondly because of his age and partly his lack of higher education, but strong
attitudes towards British politics. Even though Jack does not hold any
university degree, he was particularly knowledgeable of British politics and
eager to talk about the issue this report is discussing. In fact, Jack grew up
in a small town near Liverpool that in his words “was entirely British”,
despite now working in the culturally diverse Manchester. These were the main
reasons to expect a truly intriguing and well-informed answer.
Prior to the interview the Ethics Design
Tool, specifically designed by the University of Manchester for the purpose of determining
whether this report required an ethical review, was used. It does not necessitate
an ethical review on condition that the person or the organisation that has granted
access to the survey used for this report does not require one. Moreover, a
topic guide that includes major and sub-bullet-points was also developed prior
to the interview and it could be found at the end of this report. Following the
strict rules of interviewing and after the interviewee was asked to provide a
permission for recording, as before the interview my colleague Jack was
acquainted with the confidentiality and anonymity rules of this interview.
The findings of this report are presented
and analysed in this section. The graph below shows concisely the results of
the analysed data through SPSS.
Source: British Election Study, 2010; (N=2932);
Chi Square = 150.736, p