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Quality of Society Index in the UK
Attitudes to Society in the UK and Comparison with Japan

In June 2021, Dentsu Institute conducted a 40-question survey of 2,000 people living in the UK on attitudes to society. The questionnaire used was an English translation of the same questions used in the 1st Survey for the Quality of Society Index conducted in Japan in May 2021. This article outlines the results of the UK survey, compares them with the results of the Japan survey, and summarizes similarities and differences between attitudes to society in the two countries.

Outlines of the Pilot Survey for the Quality of Society Index conducted in Japan in December 2020 and the 1st Survey for the Quality of Society Index conducted in May 2021 are available on the Dentsu Institute Website.

Attitudes of People in the UK toward Their Own Society

1. Perceptions and Hopes regarding Life and Society

UK figures for perceptions of worries, reserves, and hope are set out below. The results show that worries about life in 10 years’ time are 6.9 percentage points lower than worries about life at present, and perceptions of reserves in 10 years’ time are 10.1 percentage points higher than those at present.

2. Assessments and Hopes regarding Quality of Society

For the UK, the results show no great difference between current assessments and hopes for 10 years’ time regarding quality of society. In Japan, on the other hand, for questions relating to social foundations, inclusion, and tolerance for others, the figures for hopes for 10 years’ time are higher than those for current assessments.

3. Sense of DX Effectiveness

Results for questions on digital transformation (DX) effectiveness in society showed that in the UK, around 60% of people consider that digitalisation is increasing disparity and negatively affecting human nature, and that the same will apply in 10 years’ time. Conversely, around 60% of people also seem to feel that digitalisation is bringing prosperity to people’s lives. The results for both questions were similar in Japan.  

There was a notable difference between the two countries in responses to the statement “Digitalisation is expanding educational opportunities and eliminating inequality.” Those answering “Agree” or “Agree somewhat” amounted to 67.6% in the UK but only 26.8% in Japan. The UK was thus 40.8 percentage points higher. In the UK, many people appear to perceive that digitalisation is effective in eliminating inequality in educational opportunities, etc.

4. Preferences for Shaping Society

The variance between answers given in the UK and Japan was less than 5 percentage points for 9 of the 20 questions on what kind of society people wanted, revealing many common preferences for shaping society. For example, a large proportion of people in both countries agreed with the statement the UK and Japan “should aspire to a society that supports having and raising children” (Japan 91.7%, UK 82.1%). However, only 34.5% of Japanese respondents think that Japan “provides an environment that supports having and raising children,” whereas 76.9% of UK respondents think that the UK provides such an environment, indicating a large divergence in attitudes. This reveals that people in Japan perceive a big gap between the current reality and their ideal environment for raising children.

There were also large differences between the two countries in responses to the statements that the UK and Japan should seek to become societies in which “political, economic, cultural, and other major activities are efficiently concentrated in a small number of major cities” (51.9% agreed in the UK, 23.7% in Japan), “should work on the assumption that the population will decline when considering the best approaches for society (UK 57.4%, Japan 86.3%), and “should accept immigrants to maintain population levels” (UK 53.4%, Japan 29.3%). The reasons for the differences in these responses probably lie in the two countries’ differing social backgrounds—for example metropolitan structures and population mobility—rather than differing attitudes.

Similarities between Japan and the UK

Similarity (1): High levels of trust in others

When asked whether people in their countries “trust each other,” a majority of respondents in both countries, 53.8% in Japan and 56.7% in the UK, answered “Agree” or “Agree somewhat.”

Similarity (2): Desire to achieve a balance between maintaining economic power and solving environmental issues

Figures were similar for the questions below about the directions one’s country should take. Results showed that people in both Japan and the UK want to achieve a balance between maintaining economic power and solving global environmental issues.

Differences between Japan and the UK

Difference (1): The largest gap seen in perceptions of social and economic vitality

The question revealing the biggest gap between Japan and the UK in the survey results asked whether the relevant country “has social and economic vitality” at present. Only 22.8% of respondents in Japan answered with “Agree” or “Agree somewhat,” whereas 71.6% of those in the UK did so, a gap of 48.8 percentage points.

Asked whether their countries “will have social and economic vitality” in 10 years’ time, 30.5% of respondents in Japan answered with “Agree” or “Agree somewhat,” whereas 72.8% of those in the UK did so. For the UK this was almost the same as current perceptions, whereas in Japan it was 7.7 percentage points higher, indicating higher hopes for 10 years’ time than now.

Difference (2): Another large gap seen in perceptions and expectations of human and financial reserves

After vitality, the question revealing the second-largest gap between Japan and the UK asked whether the relevant country “will have enough human and financial resources (reserves)” in 10 years’ time. Only 23.1% of respondents in Japan answered with “Agree” or “Agree somewhat,” whereas 70.4% of those in the UK did so, a gap of 47.4 percentage points.

At the same time, 21.3% of respondents in Japan thought that their country “has enough human and financial resources (reserves)” at present, compared to 60.4% in the UK. In Japan, there is little difference between perceptions for now and the future, whereas in the UK expectations for 10 years’ time are 10.1 percentage points higher.

As the above results show, in Japan the proportion of people who think that their society has/will have vitality and reserves at present and in 10 years’ time, respectively, is markedly lower than in the UK. Regarding reserves, in particular, expectations for 10 years’ time are similarly low to those at present, indicating that people in Japan have difficulty seeing a bright outlook for the future.

Ways of thinking about reserves differ depending on the person. In the Japanese version of the World Values Survey Wave 7 (2019), the proportion of people saying it would be a “good thing” if there were “less importance placed on work” increased by five percentage points from the previous survey (2010). Perhaps a shift has begun from working in order to build financial reserves toward the idea of creating reserves of mental ease and time by reconsidering the priority one places on work. Comparison with the UK QoS survey has cast the mindsets of Japanese people into sharper relief.

Conclusion

Overall, people in the UK tended to assess the quality of their own country’s society more highly than Japanese people did. Especially large gaps were revealed in perceptions and assessments of social and economic vitality and human and financial reserves in one’s own country. However, there were also many similarities between people in the two countries, including similar preferences for shaping society.

Comparing the views of people in different societies is an opportunity to look at Japanese society in relative terms, and provides tips for considering the future of one’s own society. To lead to the creation of a society where people can have hopes, Dentsu Institute will continue conducting the Survey for the Quality of Society Index and tracking changes in people’s attitudes. 

Survey Overview
Survey for the Quality of Society Index 2021 in the UK (1st survey)
Survey period: June 8–18, 2021
Survey method: online questionnaire
Survey region: entire UK
Target respondents: men and women aged 18–79 (including high school students)
Sample: 2,000 (responses gathered from the regions below according to demographic composition of gender and age groups)
England(North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, London, South East, and South West), Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Excluded occupations: none
Survey company: Dentsu Macromill Insight Inc.

Note: Percentage figures do not necessarily total 100%, since percentages in the survey results are expressed as rounded figures calculated based on actual numbers of respondents.
Contact regarding Quality of Society Index in the UK
Yamazaki, Magome, Nakagawa and Kimura, Dentsu Institute
E-mail: d-ii@dentsu.co.jp
URL: https://institute.dentsu.com/en/


Taro Magome

Producer, Dentsu Institute

Taro Magome was born in Kagoshima, Japan in 1982. After working in several advertising agencies, he moved to Dentsu Digital Inc., where his duties included direction focused on tools for managing advertising on social network services. Since joining Dentsu Institute in February 2020, he has engaged chiefly in data-based analysis of the society of the future.

Taro Magome was born in Kagoshima, Japan in 1982. After working in several advertising agencies, he moved to Dentsu Digital Inc., where his duties included direction focused on tools for managing advertising on social network services. Since joining Dentsu Institute in February 2020, he has engaged chiefly in data-based analysis of the society of the future.

Aki Kimura

Producer, Dentsu Institute

Born in Tokyo and grew up in Chiba Prefecture. Graduate of the University of Tokyo Faculty of Letters (Department of Japanese History, History Division). Member of the Tokyo Copywriters Club. Joined Dentsu in 2005 and Dentsu Institute in February 2020. Main research topics are next-generation education and regional society.

Born in Tokyo and grew up in Chiba Prefecture. Graduate of the University of Tokyo Faculty of Letters (Department of Japanese History, History Division). Member of the Tokyo Copywriters Club. Joined Dentsu in 2005 and Dentsu Institute in February 2020. Main research topics are next-generation education and regional society.

Sayuri Nakagawa

Producer, Dentsu Institute

Born in Nara Prefecture. Joined Dentsu Institute in February 2020. Coordinator for the World Values Survey and Values in a Crisis Survey. Sayuri’s research interests are in gender, well-being, and climate change. She has an MA in Promotional Media from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Born in Nara Prefecture. Joined Dentsu Institute in February 2020. Coordinator for the World Values Survey and Values in a Crisis Survey. Sayuri’s research interests are in gender, well-being, and climate change. She has an MA in Promotional Media from Goldsmiths, University of London.