We're actually quite happy

 

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It was the most OK of times, it was the most alright of times, the age of not bad, the season of mustn't grumble. Whatever the climate, real or economic, the national happiness is a robust 7.4 out of 10, and it seems nothing can be done to shift it.

The first results of the Prime Minister's happiness survey were published yesterday by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and they are, well, pretty good. About a seven out of 10.

Regardless of age, gender, employment or marital status, the average of the answers to the question "how happy did you feel yesterday on a scale of one to 10?" homed in on or very near the 7.4 out of 10 mark. Not bad, given the doom and gloom that appears to be all around.

The survey questioned just over 4,000 people between April and August this year. Britons were swept up in an April heatwave and a royal wedding, and sent crashing back down to earth as hell rained down on the windows of JD Sports, from Tottenham to Birmingham, but the happyometer flatlined at the 7.4 mark throughout.

Participants were asked four questions. Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays? To what extent do you feel the things you do are worthwhile? How happy did you feel yesterday? And how anxious did you feel yesterday?

Women were slightly happier than men, at 7.5 to 7.3, but with greater anxiety too – 3.6 to 3.5. The oft-cited "U shape" of happiness in terms of age, was borne out too, 16 to 19-year-olds being as happy as 65 to 74-year-olds, dipping in between, but with a range stretching only between 7.8 and 7.1.

The only large-ish discrepancies were between people in a marriage or civil partnership (7.8) and those divorced or separated at 6.9. Those in employment averaged 7.4, not vastly north of their unemployed counterparts at 6.8, who were the least happy demographic.

The findings are the first experimental results on subjective well-being from the ONS since last November's launch of the national well-being programme by David Cameron. Stephen Hicks, ONS project leader for measuring subjective well-being, said: "We are drawing on a range of measures to encapsulate national well-being measures including the subjective well-being measures we're publishing today.

"These are early experimental results from our opinions survey but nevertheless they give us an indication of the well-being levels within Great Britain in this case."

The survey will continue in the winter, and the project expanded to include more participants and more detailed questioning. The results were released after findings in October by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that the British were among the world's most satisfied people.

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