Measuring National Well-being (MNW) is about looking at “GDP and beyond” to measure what really matters to people. The MNW programme began in November 2010 with the aim to “develop and publish an accepted and trusted set of National Statistics which help people understand and monitor well-being”. We describe well-being as “how we are doing” as individuals, as communities and as a nation, and how sustainable this is for the future.
Personal well-being (sometimes referred to as “subjective well-being”) is one of many ways in which the MNW programme aims to assess the progress of the nation.
Office for National Statistics uses four survey questions to measure personal well-being as illustrated in Table 1. People are asked to respond to the questions on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”.
|Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
|Overall, to what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
|Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
|On a scale where 0 is “not at all anxious” and 10 is “completely anxious”, overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
Download this table Table 1: Four measures of personal well-being.xls .csv
Monitoring personal well-being across the nation helps to show how people feel their quality of life changes and this can be related to changes in circumstance, policies and wider events in society. More information on personal well-being can be found in the user guidance.Back to table of contents
A list of surveys that include the four Office for National Statistics (ONS) personal well-being questions is provided in this section. Information for each survey has been collected by engaging with the users of our personal well-being data and publications and researching the internet.
|Office for National
|Annual Population Survey
|Labour market data including employment and unemployment, as well as housing, ethnicity, religion, health and education.
to March 2012
|Wealth and Assets Survey
|Level of assets, savings and debt; saving for retirement; how wealth is distributed among households or individuals; and factors that affect financial planning.
|July 2011 to
|Living Costs and Foods Survey
|Household spending patterns for the consumer prices index and for GDP figures and detailed information on food consumption and nutrition.
|April 2011 to
|Crime Survey for England and Wales
|Experience of crime and attitudes to crime-related issues such as the police, the criminal justice system, and perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour.
|Opinions and Lifestyle Survey
|Collects information on a variety of topics that are too small to have surveys of their own. Topics that have been previously commissioned include smoking habits, cancer awareness, charitable giving, climate change and disability.
|University of Oxford
|Time Use Survey
|Diary entry survey. The substantive domains are main activity (49 categories), secondary activity (10 categories), location and means of transport (11 categories) and with whom ( 8 categories). The temporal identifier holds information on the time when episodes start and end.
|April 2014 to
|National Citizenship Services Evaluation
|Social mixing; transition to adulthood; teamwork, communication and leadership; and community involvement.
|Youth Social Action Survey
|Social Action (Only Satisfaction and Worthwhile included).
Work and Pensions
|Life Opportunities Survey
|Measures how disabled and non-disabled people participate in society in a number of areas which include:
• social participation
|2013 to 2014
|The National Study of
Work Search and
|Psychological health and well-being of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants.
|English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)
|Information on the health, social, wellbeing and economic circumstances of the English population aged 50 years and older.
|April 2012 to
|Department of Health
|What about YOUth? Survey
|Young people's health, diet, what they do in their free time, bullying and whether they smoke, take drugs or drink alcohol.
|Ministry of Defence (MoD)
|Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS)
|Information on the views and experiences of MoD personnel which helps shape policies for training, support, and the terms and conditions of service.
and Industrial Strategy
|Families Continuous Attitude Survey (FAMCAS)
|Information on personals in the MoD spouses in a number of areas including accommodation, healthcare, education and childcare, and deployment.
|Impact of FE learning Survey
|Attitudes towards further education, including funding, readiness of information, guidance, and decision making process.
Local Government (DCLG)
|English Housing Survey
|Age, type, condition and energy efficiency of housing stock and the characteristics of households.
|2013 to 2014
|The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
|Taking Part Survey
|Participation in and engagement with cultural and sporting activities at the individual level, and pathways in and out of participation and engagement.
|2013 to 2014
|Community Life Survey
|Volunteering, charitable giving, local action and networks and well-being.
|2013 to 2014
|Foods Standards Agency
|Food and You
|Reported behaviours, attitudes and knowledge relating to food issues such as reported food purchasing, storage, preparation and consumption. It also looks at eating habits, influences on where respondents choose to eat out and experiences of food poisoning.
|The National Survey
|Opinions on a wide range of issues affecting people living in Wales and their local area.
|April 2012 to
|Labour force estimates that include the official measure of employment and unemployment in the state (International Labour Organisation (ILO) basis).
|Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE): The Natural Survey on People and the Natural Environment
|How people use the natural environment,
• type of destination
• mode of transport
• distance travelled
• main activities
• barriers to visiting
|2012 to 2013
|UK Civil Service
|Civil Service People Survey
|Civil service staff attitudes and experiences of work.
and National Centre
for Social Research
|Living Well Index
|What does it mean to live well? How well are we really living as a nation, and why? This study aims to provide the answers – by defining, measuring and tracking, over a number of years, what it means to live well in Britain.
|Measuring Graduate Subjective Well-being Outcomes through Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE)
|The survey which will gather insightful and comprehensive information about graduate outcomes. The four ONS personal well-being questions are optional.
|One Parent Families
Scotland and Scottish
Poverty and Inequality
Research Unit at
|Single Parents Community Connections Survey
|Aims to be the largest ever survey of single parents in Scotland. The results will feed into OPFS and GCU’s Community Connections project funded by the Scottish Government Innovation fund. The project aims to tackle isolation, loneliness and poor mental health among single parents.
|The Land Trust
|Perceptions Survey and Social Value Study
|The Land Trust is dedicated to providing free public open space for the benefit of communities. Land Trust commissioned Carney Green to undertake a Social value assessment of its sites.
|Natural Resources Wales
|People Survey 2015
|Our People Survey was carried out in order to gauge honest opinions from staff on how they feel about working for Natural Resources Wales.
|Active Lives Survey
|Measuring the number of people aged 14 and over taking part in sport and physical activity.
|Centre for Regional
Economic and Social
Research (CRESR) and
Institute for Employment Research (IER),
University of Warwick
|Active Lives Survey - Children and Young People Survey
|Includes 3 of the ONS 4 - does not include the anxiety question.
|Big Lottery Talent
|An evaluation survey of the initial entrants onto the Talent Match programme. The overall objectives of the programme are to support 25,000 individuals with the goal of 5,400 entering employment.
|Isle of Man Government
|Health and Lifestyle
|The areas of interest for this survey were:
• general health
• diet and physical activity
• alcohol and drug consumption
|Higher Education Policy Institute
|The survey investigates the learning and teaching experiences of students, including satisfaction with courses, reasons for dissatisfaction, experience of different-sized classes, total time spent working, perceptions of value-for-money, institutional spending priorities and a focus on student well-being.
Download this table Table 2: List of surveys that include the four ONS personal wellbeing questions.xls .csv
These questions provide a harmonised standard for measuring personal well-being. As with other harmonised standards, our goal is to have them widely used to promote consistency and comparative findings. To that end, they are freely available to others and their use is encouraged.
If you are aware of any other sources using the four Office for National Statistics (ONS) personal well-being questions, or of any analysis that has been completed using these measures of personal well-being, please contact the Quality of Life team by email at QualityOfLife@ons.gov.uk. Alternatively, if you wish to use the ONS personal well-being questions in your own survey and would like some advice, please get in touch.Back to table of contents