We’re getting slightly happier, new figures show, as well as feeling that what we’re doing is a little more worthwhile! According to the Office for National Statistics, last year there was a slight increase in our levels of wellbeing, particularly in Scotland, where people reported improved life satisfaction - although it wasn’t such good news in Wales, with satisfaction levels being lower than the national average.
While it’s easy to put the nation’s current good mood down to the heatwave and England’s World Cup efforts, the latest ONS figures are a measure of wellbeing between December 2016 and December 2017, with people experiencing, on average, slightly higher levels of happiness and feelings of worth compared to the year before. Scotland has shown improvements in average ratings of life satisfaction, but a larger proportion of people in Wales reported low levels of life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness compared with the UK on the whole.
The results are part of the Measuring National Wellbeing programme, which began in 2010 with the aim of recording how people in the UK are doing in the areas that matter to us the most, including health, what we do and our relationships. Changes are assessed in the short term (one year) and the long term (five years), with an overall positive picture emerging since 2010.
Areas that are, on average, improving in the long term include our personal wellbeing (such as our life satisfaction and happiness), satisfaction with our leisure time and income and getting by financially. But since the programme began, fewer of us are experiencing job satisfaction and there has also been a drop in the number of people who feel as though they have someone to rely on.
ONS statistician Silvia Manclossi said: “An important aspect of our work is to shed light on inequalities in society to better support who is struggling in different aspects of life. For example, over this period we have seen some differences between countries, with Scotland driving improvements in personal wellbeing in the UK. We have reported some initial work on how to best measure wellbeing inequalities and we are planning more work to explore them, especially any characteristics and circumstances common to people who give the lowest wellbeing scores.”
Four personal wellbeing questions are included as part of the wider programme, with the latest results showing the average rating in the UK for life satisfaction as 7.7 out of 10. The feeling that what people do in life is worthwhile had a rating of 7.9 out of 10, while happiness had an average rating of 7.5 out of 10. A rating of 2.9 out of 10 was given for anxiety.
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