Measurement unit survey

UKMA commissioned a survey conducted by the market research company YouGov to explore a number of aspects of public attitudes regarding measurement units in the UK. They included:

  • How well people understand the relationship between some commonly used units.
  • What units people typically use for various purposes.
  • Whether they support the completion of the metric changeover started decades ago.
  • If any political party pledged to complete the changeover, would it affect how people voted at a general election.

The data supplied by YouGov included information about the respondents’ age, gender, educational background and party political preferences.

The results did not show strong support for completing the changeover, but UKMA’s analysis does highlight some important points:

  • Public knowledge of measurement unit ratios is generally poor in both imperial and metric but the grasp of metric is marginally better.
  • People use imperial for some things and metric for others so the muddle is very real.
  • The measurement mess in the UK is self perpetuating and will not be resolved automatically by future generations merely by teaching metric in schools.
  • The political risk of taking the initiative to complete the changeover and resolve the muddle is minimal.

There can be little doubt that measurement policy in the UK is a complete failure and Britain will never have the benefit of a single system that everyone can understand and use for all purposes, unless decisive steps are taken.

See our executive summary and full report for further details.