Around three quarters of adults in Great Britain rated their own life satisfaction, with a score of 7 or more out of 10, according to a research report published by the Office for National Statistics today. Similar proportions also rated the things that they do in life as worthwhile and their happiness over the previous day at 7 or more out of 10.
In terms of how anxious people felt, over half those asked rated their levels at below 4 out of 10 with a quarter reporting zero, i.e. ‘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.
The estimates published today are based on around 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. Results show that:
When asked, ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’ the majority (76 per cent) of people were estimated to have a rating of 7 out 10 or more. However, a minority (8 per cent) were estimated to be below 5 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 per cent) of people rated this at 7 or more out of 10. A lower proportion of adults gave lower ratings to this question, with 6 per cent giving a rating below 5 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 per cent) of adults responded with 7 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 per cent giving 9 or 10 out of 10) to the ‘happy yesterday’ question as well as lower scores (12 per cent below 5 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?’ over half (57 per cent) had ratings of less than 4 out of 10, a sizeable proportion (27 per cent) of people had ratings above 5 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 four questions reported above were also seen to be linked with other areas which were identified as important for measuring national well-being as part of the national debate. Having a partner and reporting to be in good health were positively associated with ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happiness yesterday’. People who were unemployed reported lower levels on average compared with those who were employed.
Additional questions were also asked on the Opinions Survey over the period including satisfaction with aspects of life. 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. However, 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).
ONS will publish further experimental estimates from the Integrated Household Survey, which will ask the four overall monitoring questions of around 200,000 adults over the year and will allow for analysis below the national level such as regional variations and for more detailed sub-groups of the population.
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