The YouGov Death Study: The perception and impact of death

Milan DinicDirector - Content Strategy and Innovation
October 06, 2021, 1:50 PM GMT+0

How often do people think about death?

The YouGov Death Study shows that 9% of Britons report thinking about death – either their own or in general – at least once a day, and another 20% think about it several times during the week. On the opposite end are 7% who say they think about this less than once a year, and 4% say they never think about death.

It is of course worth noting that thoughts of death might be more common now – in the middle of a pandemic – than they would be in more normal times.

Currently, Britons aged 16-24 are twice as likely (12%) than those 60 or older (6%) to report thinking about death on a daily basis, with 25-59 year olds sitting in between at 10%.

When it comes to those religious Britons who are actively practicing their faith, 13% report thinking about death once a day, compared to 8% of those who are not practicing their religion or are not religious at all.

When is the right time to teach children about death?

As death is likely to continue to be a part of human life for the time being, we asked Britons when the right time is to start introducing children to the concept of death.

Results shows that 13% of Britons think this should be done by the age of three, three in ten (29%) think this should be between the age of four and seven, while 7% think this should be between the ages of eight and nine. One in seven (15%) think children should first be taught about death when they are 10 or older.

There are worse things than death, say Brits

Two-thirds (65%) of Britons think there are things that are worse than dying. There is a notable difference between younger and older Britons when it comes to this issue: while 72% of 16-24-year-olds say there are things which are worse than death, this falls to 59% among those 60 and older.

Among Britons who are not comfortable talking about death, three in ten (31%) say there isn’t anything worse than passing away. This is twice as many as those who say they are comfortable talking about mortality (17%).

What impact has the death of another had on Brits?

When asked how the death of someone has impacted them, the most common response, at 38%, was that Britons began to appreciate life more itself, with this view being shared more by women (40%) than men (35%).

A third (34%) say they changed their views on what is important in life, while for 27% somebody’s passing made them feel stronger. Just under one in five (18%) said they became more open to others after experiencing someone’s death. One in eight (13%), however, say that the death of someone had no impact on them in any way.

Notably more women (31%) than men (21%) say that somebody’s death made them stronger. Women are also more likely than men to report that they changed their priorities in life (38% vs 30%) having experienced someone dying. Conversely, more men (16%) than women (10%) say that they’ve not been impacted in any way following somebody’s death. [Q11] Chart: by age+gender

While just 5% of the population say they have become more religious after experiencing somebody’s death (with 8% saying their faith has weakened), 20% of practising religious Britons said their faith was strengthened following a death.

See the full results here

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