A new study — The Great Sharing Economy: A Report into Sharing Across the UK — has found that a good 80 percent of British citizens are happier when they share. Those statistics are at odds, however, with the wealth disparity that plagues the UK just as it does the U.S. There, a full 50 percent of the population accounts for a mere 1 percent of the nation's wealth.
A protester at Occupy Wall Street sums it up. Photo credit: David Shankbone. Used under Creative Commons license.
Still, a largely untapped drive to share is present in a large majority of UK residents, as the report notes:
- Eight of 10 people say that sharing makes them happy.
- Seven out of 10 people in the UK say that sharing makes them feel better about themselves.
- UK residents have more stuff in our lives than ever before. The average child, according to our survey, has over 75 different toys, gadgets, and items that they own at home.
- UK residents share less compared with a generation ago, with more homes occupied by single people and more cars on the road with single drivers.
- UK residents want to share more. Over half of the UK would love to find ways of being able to share their time and resources within their local community.
- One in three people would be willing to share their garden with someone else locally, if they looked after it to grow vegetables or flowers.
- 75% of us believe that sharing is good for the environment and 6 out of 10 of us would share his or her car journey with someone if it were possible.
- UK residents do not think they're good at sharing. The poorer you are, the less likely you are to think people share.
- Those in the Northwest, traditionally the co-operative heartland, share most.
- One in four people in the UK spends over 20 hours or more alone each week.
- 47% of us feel uncomfortable about sharing things outside the family.
- We’re most likely to share a bottle of wine, a pot of tea, and pizza, and least likely to share our toothbrushes, bank accounts, and our bath.
In the end, if people want to share, getting their communities and municipalities to clear the way for them to share can help a lot. To that end, cities can implement policies that making sharing easier — things like loosening restrictions on home businesses, giving plenty of assigned parking spaces to carshare vehicles, promoting sharing of all sorts, and so on. Folks looking to share toothbrushes and baths, though, are on their own.