A post-Brexit re-contact survey conducted by BMG Research suggests that those respondents who are currently in employment are most unhappy with the result of the referendum, whereas those who are unemployed or retired are most positive about the outcome. There is also a substantial generational divide in the reactions, with younger generations expressing far more concern than baby-boomers.
Generation no X-it?
When asked to describe how they felt when they first heard the result of the UK’s EU referendum, in just a single word, almost half (48%) of respondents aged 35-44, often referred to as Generation X, expressed negative feelings. This is much higher than any other age bracket.
It may be the case that this group feel that they will be the hardest-hit by any economic consequences of Brexit. This assertion would be supported by the fact that 51% of respondents in the same age bracket thought that staying in the EU would be good for the British economy.
However, there are several additional and plausible explanations for why there is a relatively high level of negative responses from those in this age group. It is true that those GenX-ers are more likely than others to be settled in careers, and while retirement is still a distant prospect for most in that age group, in a competitive jobs market many may feel that it is too late to re-train if they lost their job or if their role changed significantly.
Further to this, GenX-ers are more likely to be exposed to economic shocks than other groups, such as baby boomers, who are most likely to own their homes outright. Some 62% of those aged 65+ say that they own their home outright, and most of those may take the view that they are less exposed to short term fluctuations in the economy than those who have had to borrow in order top buy. Those aged 25-34, part of Generation Y, may even welcome a slow-down in house prices, given the increasing difficulty to raise enough capital to get on the housing ladder.
With 52% of GenX-ers owning their home with a mortgage, much higher than any other age bracket, it’s not just interest rate uncertainty that will have a big impact on 35-44 year-olds, but domestic house prices, savings, inflation and job security to name a few.
When we break down the data by socio-economic grade, there is a clear correlation between wealthier economic backgrounds and more negative feelings towards the referendum result. The proportion of people in social grade DE (that is those who are unemployed, unskilled or semi-skilled workers) that reacted positively to the results is much higher than the proportion of those in higher social grades. Some 42% of cat DE’s reacted positively, compared to just 25% for AB’s and 31% for C1’s.
As expected, these results are reversed when looking at negative reactions. Around 4 in 10 (40%) of those classed as AB responded negatively, compared to just 31% of respondents who fall into the DE bracket.
Similar results are found when the data are analysed by employment status, further emphasising how important the anticipated economic implications of Brexit could be for future analysis.
Among full-time workers around 4 in 10 (39%) said that they had negative initial reactions to the result, while some 35% of part-time workers felt similarly. In comparison, those respondents who said that they were currently unemployed but not seeking work were, on balance, more positive than negative. Some 36% of those not seeking work and 44% of retired respondents gave positive feedback. Similar results are found among those who said they are currently unemployed, with 33% saying something positive compared to just 26% who gave a negative response.
These results suggest that, while those who are employed may be more concerned about their pay and job security following the referendum result, those who are not seeking work have a different priority structure. Consequently, in future analysis, people’s employment status may be an important economic cleavage to assess when establishing the public’s perceptions of a post-EU British economy.
Fieldwork dates and methodology can be found here.
A full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please visit our website or get in touch by email or phone.
0121 333 6006
Jemma Conner – Junior Research Executive – BMG Research
Dr Michael Turner – Research Director – BMG Research