Going to the pub is good for your wellbeing




Press Release

0.001am 25th January 2016


Going to the pub is good for your wellbeing

New research from Oxford University today reveals that people who have a ‘local' pub are not only significantly happier than those who do not, but also have higher life satisfaction and have more close friends.

The report [1], written by Professor Robin Dunbar for CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) outlines that having a strong social network significantly improves both your happiness and your overall health. The more people you know, and the more often you see them, the better you feel and the healthier you are.

Face-to-face meetings are absolutely vital to maintaining friendships, because these are particularly susceptible to decay over time. Given the integral role of pubs in providing a venue to meet people and build up friendships, Professor Dunbar undertook a series of studies which found that:

  • People who have a ‘local' and those patronising community-type pubs have more close friends on whom they can call for support, and are happier and more trusting of others than those who do not have a local. They also feel more engaged with their wider community
  • Those who were casual visitors to the pub, and those in larger pubs, scored themselves as having consumed significantly more alcohol than those drinking in their "local" or smaller community pubs
  • A pub is more likely to be seen as someone's ‘local' if it is close to where they live or work
  • People in city centre bars may be in larger social groups than those in more community-oriented pubs, but they are less engaged with those with whom they are associating and have significantly shorter conversations
  • A limited alcohol intake improves wellbeing and some (though not all) social skills, just as it has been shown to improve other cognitive abilities and health, but these abilities decline as alcohol intake increases beyond a moderate level


Professor Robin Dunbar, Oxford University, says: "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."

Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive, says: "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. Nothing is more significant for individuals, the social groupings to which they belong and the country as a whole as our personal and collective wellbeing. The role of community pubs in ensuring that wellbeing cannot be overstated. For that reason, we all need to do what we can to ensure that everyone has a ‘local' near to where they live or work."

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to Government, publicans and city planners in order to keep more pubs open and accessible to people across the country.

Copy Ends

Press Enquiries:

CAMRA press office:

01727 337863

For weekend enquiries please contact:

Tom Stainer, Head of Communications, CAMRA
07801 720379

Robin Dunbar, Author of Friends on Tap report.


Notes to Editors:

About Professor Dunbar:

Professor Robin Dunbar is a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist and a specialist in primate behaviour. He is head of the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, and a visiting professor at Aalto University, Finland. He is best known for formulating Dunbar's number, a measurement of the "cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships".

Supporting graphs from Friends on Tap


In our survey, 45% of respondents stated that they drank in a pub on a regular basis. However, only 22% of people surveyed said they had a regular ‘local' – one particular pub that they habitually visited and where they knew the landlord and other customers on a personal basis (Figure 9). There is considerable national variation in the proportion of people who have a regular ‘local'. This is lowest (at a surprisingly low 10%) in Northern Ireland and Scotland (18%), and highest in Wales (31%) and the Northeast (33%) where around a third of those who used pubs had a regular ‘local'.


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