Life in the 21st Century

By Tim Lambert

British Society in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, people in Britain enjoyed a higher standard of living than ever before in history. In 1998 only 27% of the population had a mobile phone. By 2008 79% of the population did. By 2018 the figure had risen to 95%. In 2001 25%of households in Britain had a dishwasher. By 2023 the figure had risen to 56%. However, prosperity was not shared by all. In the 2010s and 2020s, some people used food banks.

In the early 21st century the population of Britain grew sharply, boosted by immigration. In 2001 the population of the UK was just under 59 million. By 2013 it had risen to 63.7 million. In 2021 it was 67.3 million.

Pet ownership was common in Britain in the 21st century. In 2018 45% of households had a pet.

Work in the 21st Century

At the start of the 21st century unemployment in Britain was low (it stood at 3.2% in January 2002). Unfortunately, unemployment rose again with the recession of 2009. In September 2012 the unemployment rate in the UK was 7.9%. By January 2019 it fell to 3.9%. In 2020 Britain, like the rest of the world was affected by the covid-19 virus. The country was subjected to lockdowns and unemployment surged again. But it began to fall again in 2021. In December 2023 it stood at 3.8%.

In the early 21st century the UK continued its transformation from an industrial society, where most people worked in mining and manufacturing industry to a post-industrial society where most people work in service industries. In 2011 80.1% of the workforce was employed in service industries.

In the early 21st century working from home became far more common.

Leisure in the 21st Century

In the early 21st century a number game called sudoku became popular in Britain. At the same time, playing games like scrabble and nine men’s morris on the internet became a popular pastime. Josh Wardle invented a word game called wordle. He made it public in 2021.

The Internet

Meanwhile, the internet had a great effect on life in Britain. In 1998 less than 10% of households in Britain had access to the internet. By 2006 the majority of households (57%) did. By 2019 93% of households had access to the internet. Emails and social networking sites made it easier for people to keep in touch with each other. Banking online became common. Shopping online became popular. So did playing games online.

Medicine in the 21st Century

In the early 21st century medicine made rapid progress. New types of transplants were performed. In 2005 the first face transplant took place. It was followed by the first leg transplant in 2011. Then in 2012, the first womb transplant was carried out. In 2021 the first trachea transplant was performed.

Life expectancy was also higher than ever before. In 2022 it stood at 78 for a man and 83 for a woman. (In 1971 it was only 68 for a man and 72 for a woman).

Last revised 2024