Britons happy despite financial gloom

Updated: 

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


A new survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that Britons rate their life satisfaction as 7.4 out of 10 despite their financial woes.

Concerns over work and precarious finances are outweighed by the happiness gained from children, relationships and where people live, according to the landmark survey.

The survey of 4,200 adults was conducted between April and August 2011 and has been released just days after the economic forecast of another, deeper recession on the horizon.

Economists predict it could leave the public worse of 2015 than they were in 2002, but the government survey shows that we remain largely unemotional about the situation.

The survey, which is part of the Prime Minister's drive to get a better measure of how the country is faring rather than focusing only on GDP, found that the average score given by people on how 'worthwhile' the things they did were was 7.6.

There were signs of stress from respondents however. Satisfaction with their financial situation was an average of 6.2 out of ten - the lowest score, and work situation fared little better at an average of 6.7 out of ten.

The most satisfaction came from personal relationships and mental well-being which had the highest mean scores - both 8.3 out of ten. But to the question 'how anxious did you fell yesterday?' more than a quarter of respondents gave the answer 5 out of ten.
The ONS reported that there appears to be a "U shape relationship for the 'life satisfaction', 'worthwhile' and 'happy yesterday'" questions when it comes to age ranges. Younger and older adults in Britain reported higher levels to these questions than people in their middle years. The highest levels were for those aged 16 to 19 and aged 65 to 74.
Paul Allen of the ONS said that health was another key factor. "We see that people who responded that when their health was bad that they would report anxiety. What we are trying to build up is a picture of how people rate happiness".
One of the most revealing aspects of the emerging science around happiness is about language. Britons appeared to associate happiness with being "calm, relaxed and peaceful" rather than being "energised and excited".

Paul Allen said this could be seen in the placards held up by public sector workers on strike at marches around the country on Wednesday. "They held up signs saying 'we are not happy about this'. It was very British".

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