Polls this year didn’t just tell us about our attitudes to Brexit, they revealed a lot about the kind of people we are

Too much of one... and not enough of the other

How well do we all get along?

Outside social media, rather less sociably than we used to. 21% of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t talk to their next-door neighbours, whereas all but 1% of people over 55 do; and 27% – compared with just 5% of the over 55s – say they’ve never spoken to a stranger on a bus (CRUK/Independent). However, the younger generation is in some respects better mannered: 53% of 18- to 24-year-olds say they send thank-you letters for Christmas presents: only 42% of over 55s and 40% of 45- to 50-year-olds do so (Royal Mail/Telegraph). We still tend to keep mum when others misbehave: 56% of rail passengers would rather stand or look for another seat than ask someone sitting in their reserved seat to move (LNER/Telegraph). Just 16% of us say we’re likely to complain if something is wrong with our restaurant meal (YouGov/Telegraph).

Do we stick to our own communities?

We often do. 34% of people who call themselves working class, and 15% of those saying they’re middle class, claim to have no friends from other classes. 33% of straight Britons have no friends of a different sexuality. And 35% of white British people have no friends from an ethnic minority background (YouGov). 53% of British Asians say they have felt the need to “tone down” their Asian identity in order to fit in (ComRes/BBC Asian Network). On the other hand, only 6% of us disapprove of interracial marriages and 73% approve of same-sex marriages (Ipsos Mori/King’s College London). By contrast, 24% would object to a fat person marrying into their family (Obesity Action Coalition/Times).

So are we multicultural in outlook?

Not really. 40% of UK voters feel that welcoming immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds has undermined British culture (ICM/Guardian). And 70% say they want a reduction in immigration, with 57% saying they want to welcome only those with specialist skills (Delta Poll/Channel 4 News). 43% of Britons think Islam is incompatible with Western liberal society (ComRes/Sunday Times).

Do we think well of ourselves, then?

Not especially. 80% of British adults class themselves as “ordinary”, although that sense of self varies dramatically with age. Among 20- to 24-year-olds, 58% look upon themselves as “ordinary”, but the proportion then rises steadily until it reaches 93% among 70- to 74-year-olds. There’s a political dimension to this too. Tory voters are the ones most likely to be self-declared ordinary people, Lib Dems, the least (YouGov). Only 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds in England say they’re proud to be English compared to 72% of those aged over 65 (YouGov/Times). And we seem to be increasingly dissatisfied with the way we look: around a third of 18- to 34-year-olds would consider plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures, whereas a mere 9% of the over 55s would do so (ComRes/BBC Radio 5 Live).

Are we more discontented with life?

The young certainly appear to be. 61% of 16- to 25-year-olds say they regularly feel stressed. The average happiness of this group is at its lowest since 2009 (Prince’s Trust/Telegraph). 57% of 18- to 24-year-olds, but only 34% of the over 55s, think richer people are happier (YouGov/ Channel 5). Just 17% of English people think England’s best years are still to come, although 18- to 24-year-olds are more optimistic: 28% do (YouGov/Times). Over the past year, 7.3 million people in England have been prescribed antidepressants (Guardian). We don’t get enough sleep: 51% of British adults sleep for six hours or less a night; only 17% get the recommended eight (Censuswide/ Times). And we spend too much time at the office, working longer hours than anywhere else in the EU: 42.3 hours on average compared with 37.8 in the most leisurely nation – Denmark (Eurostat/Daily Mail).

And what’s the main worry?

Not having enough money. 37% of people said they felt their household finances were bound to get worse over the course of the year (YouGov/Times). 54% of the young say they are worried about their finances (Prince’s Trust/Telegraph). 31% of British people – and 50% of those aged 18 to 24 – believe they won’t be able to clear their debts during their lifetime (Equifax/Independent). 32% of Britain’s workers have less than £500 in savings, a further 9% less than £1,000 (Populus/Guardian).

How do we address those worries?

A remarkably large number of us – 51% – resort to prayer; 20% of us pray while doing household chores. And 49% believe God hears our prayers (ComRes/Observer). But the worries of millennials may be misplaced. Two-thirds of those in their 20s and 30s are in line to inherit property wealth: they stand to enjoy the largest “inheritance boom” of any generation (Resolution Foundation).

Statistics of the year

Just 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol sold in England.
Public Health England

Over the course of a year, Google stores enough data from its search engine, maps, GPS and other services to fill more than half a million A4 pages for each of its users.
The Mail on Sunday

The average Briton buys 26.7kg of clothes a year – the most in Europe, and almost twice as much as fashion-conscious Italians (14.5kg).
The Times

Only 4% of the 9,115 children’s books published in the UK last year had black, Asian and minority ethnic characters, and only 1% had a BAME main character, although 32.1% of schoolchildren in England are of BAME background.
The Guardian

The average price of a pint is £5.19 in London, £4.32 in Bristol and £2.35 in Carlisle.
The Daily Telegraph

The number of vehicles on Britain’s roads has risen by 2,460,900 since 2013.
Local Government Association/Daily Mail

An estimated ten million pumpkins are grown in the UK every year, 95% of which are used for Halloween lanterns.
The Guardian

Out of a total of 54 British prime ministers, 19 were educated at Eton.
The Daily Telegraph

The number of girls in England and Wales referred by the NHS to gender identity specialists rose from 97 in 2009-10 to 2,519 in 2017-18.
The Times

There are now only 7,586 bank branches in the UK, down from 20,583 in 1988.
Daily Mail