UK happiness levels rise as economy recovers

by Ray Clancy on September 26, 2014

The UK is one of the most popular countries in the world for expats and the good news is that people living in the country are happier and believe their well-being has improved.

The latest personal well-being estimates from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows there have been year-on-year improvements in reported well-being since data was first collected in 2011/2012.

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There have been small but significant improvements in reported well-being in all UK countries

It shows that over this three year period, there have been small but significant improvements in average personal well-being ratings in each UK country and across all four measures of well-being.

The greatest gain has been in reduced anxiety levels. The proportion of people in the UK reporting very low anxiety grew between 2011/12 and 2013/2014 and there were also reductions in the proportions of people in the UK rating their well-being at the lowest levels for all of the measures.

People in Northern Ireland gave higher ratings for each aspect of their personal well-being, on average, than those in any other UK country. This has been the case in each year since ONS began collecting the data.

In London, people reported lower personal well-being on average for each of the measures compared to the equivalent UK averages, but since 2011/2012, London has had improvements across all the average measures of well-being.

Average ratings of personal well-being have improved significantly in the West Midlands. The region also had the lowest average anxiety rating of any English region in 2013/2014, while Northern Ireland and Scotland had the highest average ratings of life satisfaction at 7.7 and 7.6 out of 10, respectively, above the UK average of 7.5.

Northern Ireland was the only country where average ratings for life being worthwhile, at 8, happiness at 7.7 and anxiety at 2.8 were significantly different to the UK averages. Average reported happiness and sense that what one does in life is worthwhile were above the UK averages, while average reported anxiety in Northern Ireland was lower than in the UK.

England was the only country with significant increases in the percentages of people reporting the highest well-being on all four measures compared to previous years.  It was also the only country in which the proportion reporting low anxiety grew.

Wales and Northern Ireland also had significant increases in the proportions of people rating their personal well-being as very high on two of the four measures, with Scotland remaining stable on every measure over this period.

Only Wales and England had any significant changes in the proportions of people reporting very low well-being over this period. In Wales, there were significant reductions in the proportions of people rating their life satisfaction and happiness as very low.

In England, there were reductions in the proportions of people rating happiness as very low and anxiety as very high

In all UK countries, there were significant reductions in the proportions of people reporting very low life satisfaction and happiness. Scotland and England also had significant reductions in the proportions giving very low ratings for the sense that what they do in life is worthwhile.

There were significant reductions in the proportions rating their anxiety as very high in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Wales remained stable in the proportion, reporting high anxiety.

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