A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

11 12 13

New Series Regional I .1.

Interviewing was carried out during the period 5 to 19 August, 1942

(i) Introduction

The purposes of this inquiry were to find out what proportion of working men did their own small electrical and plumbing repairs at home; what other jobs they did at home, including looking after gardens and allotments; whether they had any difficulties in attending to these jobs; and if so what these difficulties were.


76.9% did some jobs at home.

55.6% kept gardens or allotments.

49.6% did small electrical and plumbing repairs.

Married men more frequently did jobs at home, than single men.

24.1% had difficulties in getting these jobs done now.

A sample of 1922 men was interviewed, appropriate numbers being selected from different broad occupational groups. These were as follows:-

Factories and Ship-yards %
Heavy manufacturing industries 342 17.8
Light manufacturing industries 575 30.0
Miners 175 9.1
Building & Road Workers 178 9.2
Workers in Transport & Public Services 218 11.3
Distributive Workers 239 12.4
Clerical Workers 188 9.8
Unclassified 7 0.4
Total 1922

Professional men and those in managerial positions, and others in smaller occupational groups were excluded.

As far as marital status and age distribution is concerned the sample was taken at random. These groups were as follows:-

% %
Married 77.0 Age: Under 20 10.2
Single 20.4 20 - 30 11.6
Widowed 2.6 31 - 45 43.8
Over 45 34.4

(ii) Types of job done

76.9% of those interviewed did some jobs at home and 23.1% did none.

The table given below shows the percentages who did different sorts of jobs. It should be noted that men were asked directly whether they did “plumbing and electrical repairs” and whether they looked after gardens or allotments. The other answers were unprompted, and were given in reply to a question asking what “other jobs” were done.

The percentages add up to more than 100 because many did more than one sort of job.

% of those who did any jobs at home.
Garden or allotment 55.6
Electrical & plumbing repairs 49.6
Help wife in house, wash up, etc. 9.6
Painting and papering 9.4
Carpentry 2.1
Keep poultry or rabbits 1.9
Shoe repairs 1.6
“Odd jobs” unspecified & miscellaneous 14.0
Sample 1478

The low figure for carpentry is possibly due to this being included amongst the “Odd jobs” which were unspecified.

(iii) Electrical & Plumbing Repairs

Question : “Do you usually do your own small electrical or plumbing repairs?” (The answer was counted as “Yes” if either or both of these sorts of Jobs were done).

Yes 49.6
No 50.4
Sample 1922

Married men show a higher proportion doing such repairs than single men.

Married & widowed Single Total
% % %
Yes 54.3 31.7 49.6
No 45.7 68.3 50.4
Sample 1529 393 1922

Breakdown by age is as follows:-

Under 20 20 - 30 31 - 45 Over 45
% % % %
Yes 28.2 50.5 56.6 46.3
No 71.8 49.5 43.4 53.7
* Sample 195 222 836 655

The younger men show a lower proportion saying “Yes” than the middle groups. These over 45 do repairs rather less than those in the middle groups.

(iv) Other Jobs

Questions: “Do you help with any other sorts of jobs in the house or look after a garden or allotment?”

Yes 68.1
No 31.9
Sample 1912

The proportion doing “other jobs” is higher than the proportion doing electrical and plumbing repairs.

The trend is the same as in the previous question in the case of both married and single and age breakdowns.

Married & widowed Single Total
% % %
Yes 73.2 48.5 68.1
No 26.8 51.5 31.9
Sample 1518 394 1912


Under 20 20 - 30 31-45 Over 45 Total
% % % % %
Yes 47.9 66.7 73.0 68.4 68.1
No 52.1 33.3 27.0 31.6 31.9
Sample 196 222 829 652 1912

* Slight discrepancies in sample figures in this report are due to a few forms being unclassified. The proportions are not affected.


Those who did any sort of job at home were asked: “Have you had any difficulty in attending to these jobs lately’?

% of those who did any jobs at home
Yes 31.4
No 68.6
Sample 1426

(No information was obtained from 52 of them.)

The 31.4% having difficulties represents 24.1% of the whole sample. Those having difficulties were asked what these were.

% of those having difficulty % of those doing jobs
Lack of time 70.0 21.5
Lack of materials 19.0 5.8
Miscellaneous 15.5 4.8
Sample 447 1426

The percentages given above add up respectively to more than 100. and 31.4, as some mentioned more than one sort of difficulty.

Lack of time is clearly the chief trouble. Although this was only mentioned by 21.5% of those doing jobs, it is possible that the real proportion not having enough time is higher as those working long hours may have become so accustomed to this difficulty that they thought it too common to be worth mentioning. However, a direct question on the subject such as “Do you have time to attend to these jobs?” would be needed to test this. The figure 21.5% may be taken as a minimum.

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