They have played a key role in British social life since the 16th century but now new research has shown what those who enjoy a tipple in their local already know — living near a pub makes you happier.
As well as offering a setting to enjoy food and drink pubs also play an integral role in offering a place where people can meet and make friends and mix with people from their communities — something researchers found is increasingly important in a world where people often communicate from afar using social media.
Regulars with a local pub nearby were found to be “significantly” happier, have more friends, improved social skills, better life satisfaction, and actually drink in more moderation. The report, for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), highlights the importance of face-to-face interaction.
Professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford University, said: “Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing.
“Making and maintaining friendships, however, is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute.
“Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face-to-face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary,” he added.
The study was carried out by researchers at Oxford University.
Tim Page, chief executive of Camra, said of the report: “Whilst we are delighted that such robust research highlights some of the many benefits of visiting a pub, I hardly expect the findings will be a great surprise to Camra members.
“Pubs offer a social environment to enjoy a drink with friends in a responsible, supervised community setting,” he added.
However Mr Page cautioned that the last few years have been tricky for pubs with many landlords forced to close their doors during the economic crash.
“The closing decades of the 20th century have witnessed major changes in both the style of public houses and their numbers,” he said.
“In 1951, there were 73,421 pubs in England and Wales — within 20 years, this had fallen to 64,0873.
“Closures continued apace through the ensuing decades, with as many as 2,365 pubs closing in 2009 and a further 1,300 pubs in 2010.
“As of 2014, the number of pubs had declined to 51,9004, with pubs continuing to close at an average rate of 29 a week.”