A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



New Series Regional H.3

An inquiry made by the Wartime Social Survey for the Ministry of Food

Interviewing was carried out during the period 26 August, to 11th September, 1942

A sample of 3017 housewives was interviewed.

Housewives were asked whether they spent their own sweet coupons; whether other members of their families spent their own sweet coupons; and which member of their families spent other members' sweet coupons as well as their own.

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88.5% of housewives spent their own coupons. 56.2% spent other people's coupons for them as well, 35. 5% spent coupons for the whole family. Husbands and children under 7 less frequently spent their own coupons than other groups. 76,4% other adults spent their own coupons and 64.2% children aged 8 to 16 spent their own.

“Spending sweets coupons” was defined as taking the coupons to the shop and buying the sweets. Who ate the sweets and who provided the money for the purchase was not considered. 88.5% of all housewives interviewed spent their own sweet coupons, and 56,8% spent also some coupons belonging to other members of their families.

Analysis by regions shows no significant difference in the proportions of housewives spending their own coupons, except in the case of Yorkshire, where as many as 94.2% (± 2.7) of housewives spend their own coupons.

There are, however, regional difference in the proportions of housewives who spend the coupons of other members of their families. It should be noted that the numbers interviewed in the different regions are small, and that therefore these results are subject to a wide margin of error. This is given below.

Region % Spending others' coupons + or - Sample
Scotland 67.1 5.4 288
Newcastle and district 55,9 8.1 145
Yorkshire 55.4 5.7 309
Lancashire 46.0 4.8 439
North Midlands 58.4 6.8 218
Midlands and South Wales 63. 6 4,6 436
East Anglia 51.7 6.9 211
South and South East 58.3 5.6 328
South West 66.9 6.3 220
London 51.9 4.8 439
TOTAL 56.8 3017

Scotland, the Midlands and the South West show relatively high portions, Lancashire shows the lowest proportion.

There are no significant differences between different income groups.

Breakdown by housewives with and without children show marked difference in the proportions spending other members' coupons.

Spend own coupons Spend others' coupons Sample
% %
With children under 8 only 93.2 85.4 661
With children under 8 – 16 89.3 61.7 929
With no children 85.9 40.6 1427
TOTAL 88.5 56.8 3017

A much higher proportion of Housewives With young Children spend other members' coupons, and those with no children show a relatively low proportion doing so.

Analysis by age groups reflects the trends shown above. It may be assumed that these groups to some extent correspond with the groups with young children, children of school age, and no children.

Spend own coupons Spend others' coupons Sample
% %
Under 35 95.0 81.3 776
30 - 50 90.3 85.6 1302
Over 50 88.5 34.4 933
Sample 88.5 56.8 3017 *

* Slight discrepancies in sample figure are due to a few forms being unclassified in respect of age. Proportions are not affected.

In planning the inquiry it was assumed that housewives would know whether other members of their family spent their own and other people's coupons.

Information as to whether these other members spent their own coupons was obtained in the case of 94% of the all other persons included in the families represented. Information as to whether they spent other members coupons as well as their own was obtained in the case of 87%.

Spend own coupons
Number Spend others' coupons
Husbands 32.4 2018 5.7 1867
Others aged over 16 76.4 2379 11.2 2236
Children aged 8-16 64.2 1339 10.7 1261
Children aged 5-7 23.9 590 5.7 560

The numbers given are the number of people in the housewives’ families about whom information was obtained.

About a third of the husbands spent their own coupons; about two-thirds of the children of school age did so; and about three-quarters of the other adults. Of the younger children only about a quarter spent their own coupons. It will be remembered that 88% of the housewives spent their own coupons.

It is evident from these results that housewives have more hand than any other group in the spending of sweet coupons.

In order to get more detailed information as to what proportion of coupons were spent by housewives, informants were asked how many coupons they spent themselves.

A comparison of the number of coupons spent with the number in family, and therefore the number of coupons available, gives the following result. It was found that in all but 46 cases (1.56 of sample) housewives spent whole books. Results are therefore in books and not in coupons.

Number of books spent by Housewives

None 11.5
1 book 31.7
More than 1 book but not all 20.0
Total available 35.5
No information 1.3

Families of one in which one book was spent are included in “1 book” and not in “total available”.

Rather more than a third of the housewives spent all the books. Result vary with different types of families.

No children Children aged 8-16 Children aged under 8 only
% % %
None 14.1 10.7 6.8
1 book 45.3 27.6 7.8
More than 1 book but not all 9.7 34.5 22.5
Total available 30.2 25.2 61.6
No information 0.7 2.0 1.3
SAMPLE 1427 929 661

It will be seen that a higher proportion of housewives with young children spent all the coupons than of housewives in other groups.

The group with children of school age shows a relatively high proportion spending more than one book but not all the books and in the group with young children a higher proportion do this than is the case among housewives without children.

Housewives with no children tend more to spend only their own coupons, or all the coupons available. However, it should be noted that 705, nearly half the families in this group, are families of two, and that therefore they cannot be classified as spending “more than 1 book”, because to spend more than one is to spend total available.

These results may be expressed in a different way. If the total number of books spent by the housewives is given as a percentage of the number of people in their families the results is 58.5%. Thus housewives spend nearly 60% of all sweets coupons.

TOTAL: 3034 Housewives

Regions % Type of District %
Scotland 9.5 Urban 87.3
North of England 29.5 Rural 12.7
Midlands and Wales 21.6
South, South West and East Anglia 25.0
Income Group % Age %
Class A 5.9 Under 35 25.8
“ B 21.7 35-50 43.0
“ C 37.2 Over 50 31.2
“ D 35.2

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