Happiness Index: UK population is 'generally happy' - but satisfaction scores drop when asked about work


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Three quarters of adults in Great Britain rated their own life satisfaction with a score of seven or more out of 10, according to a research report published by the Office for National Statistics – and those in employment were found to be happier than the unemployed.

But satisfaction with 'financial situation' (6.2 out of 10) had the lowest mean score, followed by 'work situation' (6.7 out of 10) and also 'with time to do the things you like doing' (6.8 out of 10).

When asked specifically about satisfaction with the balance between 'time spent on paid work and on other aspects of life', even lower scores were given, with an average of 6.4 out of 10. But respondents people were most satisfied on average with their 'personal relationships' and 'mental well-being' which had the highest mean scores (both at 8.3 out of 10).

The news comes a year after the prime minister David Cameron launched his 'happiness index' to ascertain the areas that matter most to people's overall wellbeing.

In terms of how anxious people felt, more than half those asked rated their levels at below four out of 10 with a quarter reporting zero - 'not at all' anxious during the previous day.

This report brings together initial experimental results looking at individuals' assessment of their own well-being.

Four key questions to help assess people's own individual well-being were placed on ONS household surveys from April 2011 as part of the development to supplement traditional measures of economic progress to better understand and monitor the nation's well-being.

When asked, 'Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?' the majority (76%) of people were estimated to have a rating of seven out 10 or more. But a minority (8%) were estimated to be below five out of 10. The mean score for this question was 7.4 out of 10.

When asked, 'Overall, to what extent do you think the things you do in your life are worthwhile?' a slightly larger proportion (78%) of people rated this at seven or more out of 10. A lower proportion of adults gave lower ratings to this question, with 6% giving a rating below five out of 10.

The mean score for the 'worthwhile' question was higher than the 'life satisfaction' question at 7.6 out of 10.

When asked, 'Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?' again the majority (73%) of adults responded with seven or more out of 10. However, the spread of ratings was wider than for the 'life satisfaction' and 'worthwhile' questions. A higher proportion of people had higher ratings (36%) giving nine or 10 out of 10) to the 'happy yesterday' question as well as lower scores (12% below five out of 10). The mean score for the 'happiness yesterday' question was 7.4 out of 10.

When asked, 'Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?' more than half (57%) had ratings of less than four out of 10, a sizeable proportion (27%) of people had ratings above five out of 10 (that is, closer to 10, feeling 'completely anxious' than 0, 'not at all anxious'). The mean score for this question was 3.4 out of 10.

The estimates are based on 4,200 adults (aged 16 and over) who answered these questions in the ONS Opinions Survey, from across Great Britain between April and August 2011.


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