Culture, sport and wellbeing: findings from the Understanding Society youth survey

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Jane Lakey, Neil Smith, Anni Oskala and Sally McManus

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This research has been commissioned as part of the CASE (Culture and Sport Evidence) programme, a joint programme of strategic research led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with Arts Council England, Historic England and Sport England. The CASE programme has been developed to directly influence culture and sport policy through collection of social and economic research. This research explored the potential of the Understanding Society surveys to help us build understanding of relationships between culture and sports engagement and young people’s health and wellbeing.
Understanding Society 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. At each survey wave, young people aged 10 to 15 years are asked to fill in a self-completion questionnaire. Those aged 16 and over are asked to complete the adult survey. Questions on culture and sports engagement were included in both youth and adult surveys in 2010/11, in the adult survey again in 2013/14, and in the youth surveys in 2012/13 and 2014/15. This 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.
The aims of the analysis were to examine engagement in culture and sport among young people aged between 10 and 15 years, and continuing engagement up to the age of 16/19 for those who subsequently responded to the 2013/14 adult survey, and health and wellbeing benefits that might be associated with such engagement. The report describes how different groups engaged in various types of cultural and sports activity. We also conducted more complex analyses, accounting for differences in the socio-demographic characteristics of different groups, to identify the underlying factors associated with cultural and sports engagement. Changes in patterns of cultural and sports engagement over time were also examined and related to health and wellbeing at ages 13/15 and 16/19.


Psychology, Young People, Well Being, Health, Sport, Arts and Life Course Analysis



Prepared for the Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) programme