Huge opportunity to improve the nation's wellbeing
24 Jul 2012 | Action for Happiness
* First annual set of UK subjective wellbeing data
published by ONS *
* Significant numbers of people with low life
satisfaction scores across all regions, professions, ages and
ethnic groups *
Today sees the publication of the first annual subjective wellbeing data from
the UK Office for National Statistics. This puts the UK in a
leading position globally in the move towards improved measures of
For the first time, official data shows how people's perceived
quality of life varies with key factors such as health, work
situation, geographic region, relationships and ethnic group. Many
commentators are focusing on the variations in wellbeing across
these factors which, for example, show that life satisfaction is
highest in Northern Ireland and lowest in London.
However, the much more important finding from today's
publication is that the variation in subjective well-being
within any particular population grouping is
generally much greater than the variation between
Across every region, profession, age or ethnic group there are
considerable numbers of people living very unhappy lives. For
example, somewhere between 21% and 27% of people in every UK region
have life satisfaction scores described by the ONS as "very low" or
"low". Across the UK as a whole the findings suggest that around
15m people fall into these two categories.
Founder of Action for Happiness, Lord Richard Layard said: "Our
priority as a nation should be to help improve the lives of those
people who are struggling the most. This data shows that
significant numbers of people are anxious and unhappy regardless of
their occupation, ethnic background or where they live.
"We need a much wider concept of deprivation than is usually
used in public debate. A person is deprived not only if they lack
income but if they lack the other means to enjoy life. And the
biggest single source of deprivation is lack of good mental health.
We should be doing much more to support people with anxiety or
depression, especially as we have cost-effective psychological
therapies that have been proven to improve people's wellbeing".
Commenting on today's publication, Action for Happiness
Director, Mark Williamson said: "The UK is now leading the way
globally in measuring the things that matter most, especially
people's feelings about how their lives are going. Today's
publication is a huge step forward, but reminds us that millions of
people across the UK are living unhappy lives and that we should be
doing much more to help and support them".
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Lord Richard Layard and Dr Mark Williamson are available for
ABOUT ACTION FOR HAPPINESS
Action for Happiness is a movement of people and
organisations taking action to create a happier society. Launched
in April 2011, the movement brings together like-minded people,
including parents, teachers, students, volunteers, community
leaders, policy makers, health experts and business people. It has
over 22,000 members in over 120 countries.
Action for Happiness is backed by leading
experts from diverse fields including psychology, education,
economics, social innovation, business. It provides evidence-based
ideas and materials to enable practical action to create happier
homes, workplaces and communities. The movement was founded by Lord
Richard Layard, Geoff Mulgan and Dr Anthony Seldon. Its Director is
Dr Mark Williamson.
Local community, Politics of Happiness