On 3-4 February 2022, YouGov did a survey about Britons’ preferences for using imperial and metric units for different purposes. It showed that the younger the age group, the stronger the preference for metric units.
YouGov broke down the data by political allegiance, votes for Remain or Leave in the EU membership referendum, gender, age, social grade and region. YouGov interviewed 1671 adults for this survey. For each question about user preferences for imperial or metric units, YouGov asked “If you were asked the following questions about measurements, how would you answer?”.
One notable trend in the survey is correlation between the popularity of metric units and youth (i.e. the younger you are, the stronger your preference for metric units). This is a common trend for all questions YouGov asked in the survey. The youngest age group in the survey is 18-29 and the oldest is 70+. The figures expressed here do not add up to 100% because some answered “don’t know”.
When the over 70s were asked how tall someone is, 93% preferred to answer in feet and inches and just 5% preferred to answer in metres and centimetres. For the 18-29 age group, the figures were 71% for feet and inches and 18% for metres and centimetres.
When the over 70s were asked how fast a car is travelling, 95% expressed the speed in mph and just 2% in km/h. The equivalent figures were 81% and 11% for the 18-29 age group.
When the over 70s were asked how away something is, if it is a long way away, 94% answered in miles and 3% in kilometres. The equivalent figures were 70% and 18% for the 18-29 age group.
When the over 70s were asked how away something is, if it is a short way away, 85% answered in yards, feet and inches, and 12% in metres and centimetres. For the 18-29 age group, these figures were almost the reverse, with 19% using imperial and 71% using metric.
When the over 70s were asked how hot something is, 36% answered in Fahrenheit and 54% in Celsius. Celsius was the overwhelming favourite 18-29 age group; 84% of them used Celsius and just 5% used Fahrenheit.
When asked how much someone weighs, 47% of the 18-29 age group and 86% of the over 70s answered in stones and pounds. 44% of the 18-29 age group and just 11% of the over 70s answered this question in kilograms.
When asked how much an item weighs, 11% of the 18-29 age group and 74% of the over 70s answered in pounds and ounces. 81% of the 18-29 age group and 22% of the over 70s answered this question in kilograms and grams.
This YouGov survey shows that the younger you are, the more likely you are to use metric units for a variety of different measurements in daily life. This suggests that time is on our side and metric is becoming more popular as time goes by.
Will the ever-increasing popularity of metric units among the younger generation lead to a renewed push to complete the metric transition in the UK? Only time will tell.
You can find the full results of the YouGov survey at the following link:
YouGov’s report about this survey can be found at: