National Well-Being Statistics Published

The Office for National Statistics have recently published a new set of statistics on national well-being, the first snapshot of life in the UK to be delivered by the Measuring National Well-Being Programme.

This recent innovation quantifies the subjective feelings that we all have about life in the UK to create a statistic that can be monitored over time.   

Since April 2011, ONS has included four questions that monitor our sense of well-being on their household surveys, with respondents rating how they feel on a scale of 0-10.

These questions are;

  • “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?”
  • “Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?”.
  • “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?”
  • “Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?”

The latest statistics show that, nationally,

Life satisfaction % with medium/high rating (7-10) 75.9%
Worthwhile % with medium/ high rating (7-10) 80.0%
Happy yesterday % with medium/ high rating (7-10) 71.1%
Anxious yesterday % with medium/low rating (0-3) 60.1%

ONS also report their measure of national well-being by five-year age groups, this time using the scale of 0-10 rather than as percentages .

  Happy yesterday Anxious yesterday Life satisfaction Worthwhile
16–19 7.5 2.8 7.8 7.7
20–24 7.2 3.0 7.4 7.5
25–29 7.2 3.1 7.5 7.6
30–34 7.2 3.2 7.4 7.6
35–39 7.2 3.2 7.4 7.7
40–44 7.1 3.4 7.2 7.6
45–49 7.0 3.4 7.1 7.5
50–54 7.0 3.5 7.1 7.5
55–59 7.1 3.4 7.2 7.6
60–64 7.5 3.1 7.5 7.8
65–69 7.7 2.9 7.8 8.0
70–74 7.7 2.8 7.7 8.0
75–79 7.8 2.8 7.8 8.0
80 and over 7.5 2.9 7.6 7.5

SAGA, a business who focus on needs of the over 50’s, have been compiling their own well-being index in parallel with the work of ONS.  Known as the SMILE index, SAGA claim that it confirms ONS well-being results. Paul Green of SAGA, interprets their results as follows;

“Those coming up to traditional retirement age are more worried and less satisfied with their lives than those in their fifties and early sixties. This might be because it starts to dawn on them that their pensions have not worked out as well as they had expected and are unsure what the future has in store.  However, once they are retired, they actually become much more cheerful and content.  Those in their late sixties today are usually in good health and still able to enjoy life and have more time to indulge their passions.

“The Saga SMILE Index saw a jump in happiness and well-being during Britain’s golden summer months as we bathed in the glory that was the London Olympics and other sporting successes, which provided an antidote to stories about economic gloom and doom. We hope that this sense of national pride and satisfaction will continue well into 2013.”

ONS say that; 

Many of the specific measures that are related to an individual’s well-being are also related to each other such as age, employment status, marital status and health. ONS is currently analysing the relationship between each measure and subjective well-being. Preliminary results suggest that for the measures available, self reported health, relationship status, employment status and ethnicity are most strongly related to subjective well-being. A methodological report providing more detailed results will be available in Spring 2013.

In the official publication, ONS have not refined their statistics beyond national level. Statistics on well-being have not been published for Eastleigh.

There is however an experimental Well-being Estimates Map, which is currently online. It shows an estimate of well-being at County level.


Clicking through the various screens for Hampshire suggests that in all measures, the sense of well-being is worse in the nearby urban areas of Southampton and Portsmouth than it is across Hampshire.

In that experimental map, Eastleigh is incorporated with the statistics for all for other Local Authorities that are part of the county of Hampshire. We still cannot tell what the sense of well-being is across the Borough and how well it compares to the national average, but the picture for the neighbouring urban areas, the Unitary Authorities of Southampton and Portsmouth, provides a tantalising clue…

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site. 

  2 comments for “National Well-Being Statistics Published

  1. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    November 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    We should run our own survey Ray!

    • November 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      That’s not such a daft idea.

      We know what the questions are….!

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