Culture, sport and wellbeing: Findings from the Understanding Society survey
Published: January 2018
Commissioned as part of the CASE (Culture and Sport
Evidence) programme with Arts Council England, this research explores the potential of the Understanding Society surveys to help us build understanding of relationships between culture and sports engagement and the health and wellbeing of adults in England.
Based on the Understanding Society longitudinal panel survey, our analysis aimed to examine:
- Patterns of engagement in culture and sport over the time period from 2010/11 to 2013/14
- Health and wellbeing benefits that might be associated with such engagement
Two reports were created: one focusing on adults, the other on children and young people.
Read the reports
Both reports are available on the Arts Council England website:
Culture, sport and wellbeing: Findings from the Understanding Society adult survey
Culture, sport and wellbeing: Findings from the Understanding Society youth survey
Our key findings
Sharing activities with others was shown to be an important driver for engagement
- Adults were more likely to engage in culture and sports if other members of their household also did so
- Adults with school-aged children were more likely to visit libraries, museums and heritage sites
- Young people were more likely to engage in culture and sports if adults encouraged them - for example, by taking them to events
In general, cultural and sports participation were lower among typically disadvantaged groups
- Young people from low-income households were less likely to say that adults took them to arts and sports events
- Young people from single-parent households were less likely to engage in out-of-school sports
- However, 80% of young people from most ethnic minority groups visited museums and libraries, compared to 70% of white young people born in the UK.
In general, we found links between culture and sports participation and better wellbeing
- Our results for adults showed that increasing culture and sports engagement over time was linked to improved wellbeing for participants
- Our results for young people showed better health and wellbeing for those who frequently engaged in sports
- We also saw higher levels of happiness and self-esteem for young people who engaged in arts activities.
The Understanding Society survey is a longitudinal panel survey designed to track and analyse change at individual and household level. It began in January 2009 with an initial sample of 40,000 households.
Our adult report is based on analysis of data for 20,007 adults from England who completed the Understanding Society adult survey in 2010/11, and again in 2013/14.
Our youth report is based on analysis of data for 3287 young people from England who completed the youth survey in 2010/11, following them through to the subsequent youth survey in 2014/15, or the adult survey in 2013/14, depending on their age and response.
Culture, sport and wellbeing: youth findings
Culture, sport and wellbeing: adult findings