A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



Amongst the married women interviewed in this sample were 759 mothers of children aged from five to fourteen. These were asked about the habits of their children. The question was “How often do the children (aged 5 - 14) go to the cinema at this time of year?”.

The 759 mothers had between them 1182 children in the age group concerned, and where possible information was obtained about each child. No information was obtained about 169 (14%) of the children and the results are based, therefore, on replies about 1013 children only.

In the table below the proportions of children going to the cinema at different intervals of time are compared with the corresponding proportions of the whole sample of adults (see Table 1) and of the young people aged 14 – 17 included in the sample of adults (Table 3).

Table 19

Frequency of visits to cinema

Children of school age Adults Those aged 14 - 17
% % %
More than twice a week 4 44 4 32 20 79
Twice a week 12 8 23
Once a week 28 20 36
Once a fortnight 4 34 6 38 6 18
Once a month 3 6 5
Occasionally 27 26 7
Don’t go now 3 22 9 30 1 2
Never go 19 21 1
SAMPLE: 1013 5639 304

A considerably higher proportion of children than of adults go to the cinema once a week or more often. However, the young people aged from 14-17 show a very much higher proportion going very frequently.

These results suggest that the cinema is an extremely popular recreation with the young, and although children go frequently when at school, as soon as they are earning money themselves, they go even more often.


Analysis by Economic Group

There are differences in the habits of children in different economic groups. In Table 20 results for the middle and higher economic groups are given together as the sample of children in the higher group is small.

Table 20

Frequency of children’s visits to cinema

Lower Economic Group % Middle & Higher Economic Groups %
% %
More than twice a week 4 47 3 31
Twice a week 12 9
Once a week 31 19
Once a fortnight 5 32 4 42
Once a month 3 2
Occasionally 24 26
Don’t go now 3 20 1 27
Never go 17 26
SAMPLE: 804 209

Children in the lower group go to the cinema more frequently. A substantial proportion in this group go once a week or more often.

In both the lower and the middle and higher income groups the children go to the cinema rather more frequently than do their elders.

Table 21

Frequency of children’s visits to cinema

Lower Economic group Middle & Higher Economic Group
Children Adults Children Adults
% % % %
Once a week or more 47 35 31 25
Less than once a week 32 34 42 51
Not at all 20 32 27 23
SAMPLE: 804 4185 209 1403

The difference between the results for adults and children is not so marked in the middle and higher economic groups and it should be noted that the sample of children in these groups is small. However, the difference is statistically significant. x 2 = 6.38. n = 2. P is less than .05 and there is thus evidence that the habits of children and adults in the higher and middle economic groups do differ. In the case of the lower economic group, the difference is quite clear.

Analysis by Mother’s Education

There are some differences in cinema going between the children of women who went only to an elementary school and those who had further education.

Table 22

Frequency of children’s visits to cinema

Mother’s education
Elementary Secondary or Technical
% %
More than twice a week 5 50 2 28
Twice a week 13 6
Once a week 32 20
Once a fortnight 5 29 4 45
Once a month 2 1
Occasionally 22 40
Don’t go now 3 21 -
Never go 17 27
SAMPLE: 756 * 190 *

* Sample figures do not check with the total because no analysis is made of replies for 67 children whose mothers went to other and various types of school. None of the mothers went to universities.

The children of women with higher education went to the cinema less frequently. Half the children of women with elementary education only went once a week or more often.

There are no statistically significant differences between the results for children whose mothers had secondary education and for adults in this education group. Children of mothers with elementary education went to the cinema more frequently than adults with elementary education.


Analysis by Mother’s Occupation

The mothers of 111 of the children went out to work and the mothers of the remaining 902 children were housewives only. Table 23 shows the results for these two groups of children.

Table 23

Frequency of children’s visits to cinema

Mother goes out to work Mother does not go out to work
% %
More than twice a week 2 60 5 42
Twice a week 13 11
Once a week 45 26
Once a fortnight 4 25 5 35
Once a month 1 3
Occasionally 20 2
Don’t go now 1 15 3 23
Never go 14 20
SAMPLE: 111 902

The sample of children with mothers at work is small, but the differences shown are nevertheless significant. The proportion of children with working mothers who go to the cinema once a week or more often is considerably higher than the proportion of other children who do so. It is, of course, possible that the children of mothers who go out to work have an older average age, and this might account for the difference.

The numbers of children in the sample in different regions are not sufficient to permit a regional analysis of these results.

Summing up the results given in this section:

(1) Children go to the cinema rather more than adults but less than young people aged 14 - 17.

(2) Children in families in the lower economic groups go rather more than children from families in the higher economic groups, and those whose mothers have only elementary education rather more than those whose mothers have higher education.

(3) The children of women who go out to work go to the cinema more than do other children.

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