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
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
• 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
• 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
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.
- The full research report can be found at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/wellbeing/measuring-subjective-wellbeing-in-the-uk/investigation-of-subjective-well-being-data-from-the-ons-opinions-survey/initial-investigation-into-subjective-well-being-from-the-opinions-survey.html.
- Experimental statistics are those which are in the testing phase,
are not yet fully developed and have not been submitted for assessment
to the UK Statistics Authority. They are published to involve users at
an early stage in their development.
- The Opinions Survey which is being used by ONS to test and develop
subjective well-being questions. This survey has a much smaller sample
size than the other social surveys that ONS is asking these questions
on. In July 2012, ONS are publishing the Opinions Survey estimates to
involve users at an early stage in the development of the large sample
results and this report also aims to help get feedback on the
presentation of these statistics from users.
- The Measuring National Well-being programme was launched in November
2010 to provide a fuller understanding of how society is doing than
economic measures, such as GDP. It started with a three month national
debate on ‘What matters to you?’ to improve understanding of what should
be included in measures of the nation’s well-being. Measuring What
Matters: National Statistician's Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National Well-being was published in July 2011.
- On 31 October ONS started a consultation
on the proposed domains and headline indicators for measuring national
well-being. The consultation paper suggests that individual well-being
is central to the measurement of national well-being and the estimates
published today are an important part of making an a full assessment of
the nation’s well-being.
- The first annual experimental set of data from the Integrated
Household Survey (IHS) will be available in July 2012 with further
interim results from 6 months of the Annual Population Survey (APS), the
largest constituent survey of the IHS, available in early 2012 which
will have a sample size of around 80,000 adults answering the questions.
- There was a sample size of around 4,200 adults for the 4 overall
monitoring questions in the Opinions Survey and around 1,000 adults for
additional questions asked in individual months. The data were collected
in April, June, July and August 2011 and relate to Great Britain.
Questions were not asked in May 2011 as ONS interviewers were carrying
out the Census Coverage Survey.
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