In the good old days, you could let your children play outside all evening, you’d dress up (and save up) to go to the cinema, Pluto was a planet and curry came in one flavour and was bought in a can. But times change and as it’s only penny sweets that seem immune to inflation, it is unsurprising that family spending habits have changed over the years too.
The BBC have done an interesting analysis on the subject looking back over the past 50 years int he UK. The NHS will be pleased to hear that the proportion of family spending on tobacco has fallen from 6% in 1957 to a healthier 1% in 2006. But it’s a very different case when it comes to property, the share of family spending on housing (including mortgage interest payments or rent) has more than doubled since 1957. Where we once spent 33% of our money on food and 9% on housing, in 2006 we cut back to only 15% on food (half of which was on meals out and take-aways) but a much higher 19% was allocated to housing. If we include council tax, home insurance and the odd bit of DIY then this figure rises again to 22%.
It will be interesting to see how this proportion of spending changes in the future, and it would have been nice to see how these figures change across different socio-economic groups. But they are some pretty darn interesting stats nevertheless.
One thing that the research did pick up, is that we are in fact no happier than we were a few decades ago even though our living standards have more than doubled. No matter how nice a house we have, or how big a plasma screen we have or even how nice the organic vegetable delivery box is, some economists will argue that we cannot make ourselves happier once our basic needs have been satisfied.
I would like to disagree as I’m fairly happy and I firmly believe that buying a new pair of shoes can add to one’s happiness.
To quote David Bowie…
“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”