Where are the happiest and most miserable people in the UK - and why?
A new study has revealed something that people who live outside the capital have suspected for some time: Londoners are the most miserable people in the UK. The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, found they had the lowest scores for both happiness and overall life satisfaction.
The study measures a number of things, including overall happiness on a given day, life satisfaction, a feeling that life is worthwhile, and confidence in the future. Apparently only a quarter of people in London describe themselves as very satisfied - compared to just under a third across the UK as a whole.
The researchers highlighted that Londoners suffered particularly high anxiety rates - presumably partly because the high cost of living and housing makes their finances more vulnerable if they are hit by a change in their circumstances.
They also suffered from a low sense that things we do in life are worthwhile. This may be affected by the huge variations in income and wealth among Londoners, so regardless of how hard you work, it's always easy to see someone doing better in life than you are.
Next most miserable was the West Midlands - with just 27% of people saying they were very satisfied. It's worth highlighting, however, that this area saw the largest average improvements - partly because of the rise in the employment rate - so there's hope that it will drop out of the top three the next time this survey is conducted.
In third place was Yorkshire and the Humber region at 38%. The statisticians noted that the results in this region were dragged down by the fact they saw less improvement among the most unhappy people. It suggests that there are areas in the UK where unemployment and financial problems remain a very firm fixture in life.
Top five most miserable
2. West Midlands
3. Yorkshire and The Humber
4. North East
The most satisfied region on the country was Northern Ireland at 41%. It was also highest for happiness, and for a sense that what people do in life is worthwhile. This was followed by the south east of England (30%) and the South West (also at 30%).
Top five happiest places in the UK
1. Northern Ireland
2. South East
3. South West
4. North West
The good news is that happiness in general is on the up - and that when asked how they felt on that particular day, 34% of people said they were very happy. In fact, happiness increased in almost all of the countries that make up the UK - Wales was the only exception - and the overall score was 7.5 out of ten.
The study suggested that falls in unemployment, and a general sense that the financial crisis was retreating into the past may be at the heart of improvements.
In a result that will come as no surprise to northerners, they were rated as overall happiest - as 41% of them said they were happy on the day they were quizzed. The second happiest region was the south east of England (35%), while London was the least happy at 31%.
But what do you think? Do the survey results match your own experiences, and would you say you live in a happy part of the UK? Let us know in the comments.