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to the Spring issue of Society Now, the ESRC’s regular magazine which showcases the impact of the social science research we fund. This issue is focused on politics in the run-up

to the General Election. Experts from the British Election Study answer questions about possible outcomes and what might influence them. Professor Matthew Flinders considers why

fewer people than ever are planning to vote in the forthcoming election. Why has politics fallen out of favour? Robert Joyce of the IFS looks at the difficult choices the winner of the General Election will face to reduce the deficit and public sector debt. Professor Michael Bradshaw of the UK Energy Research Centre examines the future role of gas in power generation in the UK. And in the year of the ESRC’s 50th anniversary in the first of three articles we explore the breadth and reach of ESRC-funded research, and the effect it has had on society. This issue, health and wellbeing and the study of what makes us happy. I hope you find the magazine enjoyable and informative.

Nick Stevens, Editor - Society ESRC RESE


ow Who will be the winners and losers?

Fifty years of the ESRC: Health and wellbeing

Fiscal future: More cuts or more taxes?

Voices: Cities in the brave new world

Westminster The way to

The views and statements

expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the ESRC

In this issue


13 Opinion Professor Matthew Flinders looks at why fewer people than ever before are intending to vote. What is turning us off?

20 The UK by numbers: Households

29 Information and updates People, publications, news in brief, websites and events.


Mike Bradshaw is Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School.

Matthew Flinders is Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield and is Chair of the


Political Studies Association of the UK.

Martin Ince is a freelance science writer, media adviser and media trainer.

Robert Joyce is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Professor Michael Keith is Director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), and the co-ordinator of the ESRC portfolio of investments and research programme on Urban Transformations.

10 14 18 22


10 Fifty years of the ESRC A review of the research that has examined health, wellbeing and happiness

14 Election reflections Researchers from the British Election Study (BES) and their colleagues look at possible General Election outcomes and what might influence them.

18 Future shock Higher taxes or more cuts? The options to reduce the deficit and public sector debt

22 The global gas challenge Global events and changes in the gas market can rapidly affect our gas imports. Where will our gas come from in the future?

24 Digging in data How analysis of data from local government and businesses can lead to understanding challenges in society and show potential solutions

26 Voices: Brave new world Professor Michael Keith reflects on how urban life and cities are changing, what is influencing change, and what social science can tell us about the cities of the future.


All Society Now photography © Alamy unless otherwise marked

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