Wellbeing index: results

May 16, 2011, 3:10 AM GMT+0

Following the news that the Government intends to develop a way to measure the public’s wellbeing alongside more traditional barometers of success and progress, our recent poll on the subject explored public attitudes towards wellbeing and happiness.

Happiness in age

When asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, to rate their own wellbeing, respondents’ perceptions averaged out at 6.13. Broken down into different demographic groups, men and women make virtually identical assessments of their own wellbeing, on average. Older people, on the other hand, seem to have much more positive views of their happiness: people over 60 rated both their happiness over the past 24 hours, and their sense of wellbeing in general, at around 10% higher than the national average.

What makes you happy?

Respondents indicate that many different facets of life contribute to their overall happiness. When asked to rate, from a list, the top four factors that were important to their sense of general wellbeing, relationships with close family members came out top (80%), closely followed by personal health (75%). Financial situation and relationships with friends emerged as third and fourth most important components of general wellbeing with 64% and 47% respectively. When asked more generally about the idea of the Government measuring wellbeing, over half of respondents (54%) believed it was a ‘good idea’ to develop a measure for the nation, with only 17% opposing.

Government intervention

However, the data does suggest limits as to what people believe governments can and can’t do to improve their general wellbeing. Most of the factors that respondents identified as important in their wellbeing were considered, on the whole, to be independent of government decisions.

Relationships with friends and family were the two areas most widely perceived to be unaffected by government policies, with only 5% of respondents believing government policies actually did have some impact on them. In fact, of the four factors considered by respondents to be most important to general wellbeing, financial situation was the only area over which a majority (76%) believed government policies had some influence.

And with 43% of people reporting their finances to be an area of their life they felt negative about, the message to governments seems clear: improve the economy and the nation’s wellbeing will take care of itself.