Author Topic: Older cavers??  (Read 770 times)

Offline Badlad

  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1538
Older cavers??
« on: November 12, 2018, 06:13:47 pm »
I Looked out my copy of Descent 84 on request in order to photograph it for the thread on Chris and Judith's 30th year at Descent.  This is the October/November 1988 issue as the title suggests.  I couldn't resist a little read and was drawn to the results of the 'Descent Survey' which formed the middle pages.  The respondents numbered 238.  Of interest was the average age of a caver at 31 years old.  This is a marked difference to the results of the BCA membership survey from 2017 which showed a median age of 49.  This was taken from a larger pool of 2270 members.  I appreciate the poll numbers are significantly more for the second group.  Also that one group responded to a survey mostly about their reading habits of the magazine and the other info was collected as part of membership applications but it does feel about right to me - that cavers are getting older.  I wonder if our friendly statistician would like to comment?

I also noted from the Descent survey that 94% of respondents were male and only 5% female (1% did not answer).  Although I have no hard evidence of the male/female mix today recent discussions suggest that this has made significant increases.  Parity amongst some younger groups and perhaps 20-25% across caving generally.  I'd like to think so anyway.

Offline mrodoc

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2606
    • Peter Glanvill's Webpage
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2018, 06:51:17 am »
Regarding sex ratio I would say from observation of our club membership that more women are caving nowadays and at a high level of competence. Our club committee is almost 50/50 now.
Of course I could be accused of bias as both my daughters are cavers.

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2344
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2018, 07:28:21 am »
People are caving later in life nowadays than they did 30 years ago, better / lighter equipment is probably helping there, much as it is with increasing numbers of women - although the relative percentages are probably skewed by reduced uptake by men.

Back then Descent was pretty much the only way to get info on new discoveries etc, so was read by all age groups. Younger cavers nowadays have access to far more sources of information & are less likely to be BCA members - I didn't join until I was 35, despite having caved regularly for 10 years, I didn't have any need for it until I wanted to visit caves that required insurance or were easier to access with contacts in clubs...

Even back in 2008 one poster noted the number of retired cavers in his club.

Compare & contrast with the age of forum users recently:
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=23261.0

Whilst in 2006 the 30-39 age group were clearly in the lead (33%, although again a smaller sample), but suggests the same people are using the forum without younger blood joining en masse: https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=1974.25

Mike
« Last Edit: November 13, 2018, 07:50:13 am by mikem »

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2344
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2018, 09:07:02 am »
I also suspect that female cavers are more likely to join clubs than males are, further skewing those statistics, whilst men are presumably less likely to volunteer for committee posts.

Apparently 200,000 more people took part in adventure sports than previous year, which itself was 300,000 up on 2015/16 (but this does include hillwalking):
https://www.sportengland.org/news-and-features/news/2018/october/11/active-lives-adult-survey-shows-almost-300-000-more-people-are-active/

Mike

Offline 2xw

  • obsessive maniac
  • ***
  • Posts: 403
  • Caving slag (but SUSS really)
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2018, 01:50:02 pm »
All the cavers that were 31 then were older now. Recruitment dropped off during foot and mouth?

Offline Pegasus

  • NCC
  • Administrator
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2191
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2018, 01:59:45 pm »
Info from the UKC facebook page:



If I had the time ( :o :o :o) to run an Instagram account for UKC I'm sure it would show a younger demographic.

Offline kay

  • Not a
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2616
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2018, 02:27:37 pm »
238 is a decent sample size, and there isn't a problem with it being smaller than the BCA sample. Badlad has identified the problem with comparing the two statistics - are the populations being sampled the same or, alternatively, if we are treating the population as being "all cavers", for example, then are the samples random samples from this population or are they biased?

One group are self-selected from the readership of a magazine. Descent was pretty well the only source of caving news at the time, so it might be reasonable to assume its readership was a representative sample of serious cavers. But the sample, being self-selected, isn't necessarily a random sample of Descent readership. And was the "average"  the mean or the median? Not a lot of difference between them in a symmetrical distribution, but in a skewed distribution such as income levels, or the FB one posted by Pegasus, they can be very different.

Is BCA membership a representative sample of cavers? And was the BCA sample a representative sample of BCA members? Presumably it was all those who gave their age, but is there a distinguishing factor amongst those who don't choose to give their age?

Is the likelihood of both samples being biased samples of "cavers" enough to negate the difference of 18 years? Gut feeling says probably not, but I can't prove that.

Interesting that the facebook page gives a median of about 37,  nearer the Descent figure, especially with all that we're being told about young people deserting FB. I've a feeling that is probably a more biased sample than the other two - I know so many older people who will not go near facebook, so my guess would be that the FB figures are substantially underestimating the number of 50+ cavers.

Offline andys

  • Outside its dropped to under zero, but I'm warm on here as a
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1337
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2018, 03:40:58 pm »
I suspect that the relative absence these days of University clubs - compared to the numbers around in 1988 - probably makes a big difference in the demographic. Those that got hooked on the sport, perhaps via uni clubs, before then are still around - albeit older - whereas the "young blood" intake now is far smaller. In most uni clubs, the membership was almost exclusively of younger people - with males forming the far larger proportion. Whilst non-Uni clubs always welcomed new blood, I suspect many younger cavers felt more comfortable in a group who were all about the same age.

Its not just caving though. Many societies across disparate disciplines are seeing the age profile of their members shifting ever upwards. The population appears to be becoming increasingly risk averse. How many reading this used to walk to school each day? How many do that nowadays?
Plateaus are the highest form of flattery.

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2344
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2018, 03:42:23 pm »
Facebook figures suggest c.524 women, with 564 people between the ages of 25 & 35 and 228 under 25, but leaves 640 unaccounted for (2623 likes, but some may not have given a date of birth).

I think you would have found a high percentage of Descent readers weren't NCA members, but that is probably the least biased figure of the lot.

Unfortunately there's no easy way of finding out how many are British cavers or gave the correct year, although the majority are likely to be - but it is a much larger sample than replied to the polls & is skewed the other way as Facebook has a younger demographic than forums...

Mike
« Last Edit: November 13, 2018, 03:54:12 pm by mikem »

Offline mikem

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2344
  • Mendip Caving Group
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2018, 04:16:23 pm »
Interestingly 50 more people follow the page than like it!

& 70 of my FB friends are in there, ranging from 15 to 70 years old, but probably closer to the recent poll demographic than any of the other spreads...

Mike

Offline kay

  • Not a
  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2616
Re: Older cavers??
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2018, 09:35:57 am »
Interestingly 50 more people follow the page than like it!

Not quite sure of this, but isn't "follow" (which is a recent addition) a way of making sure you see all the posts (all of them are sent to your newsfeed), whereas "like" merely increases the probability that the posts land on your newsfeed?