Here’s to your good health (and job) – the things that really matter to us

Survey reveals Britons’ most important factors regarding personal well-being

Good health and employment are more important to Britons’ sense of well-being than their relationships, according to research.

People who reported having “very bad” health rated their life satisfaction 2.4 points (out of 10) lower than those in good health, a study from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found. This makes health the most significant factor in people’s happiness.

Those unemployed for between two and four years had life-satisfaction scores 1.2 points lower on average than people in a permanent job with which they are content.

Being in a stable relationship was the third-most important factor in a person’s well-being, some way behind health and work. Single people rated their happiness on average 0.4 points lower than those who are married or in civil partnerships.

Living alone has a poor effect on  personal well-being, regardless of relationship status, according to the  ONS. Households where two or more people live together give higher ratings for their life satisfaction than people living alone.

David Cameron asked the ONS to launch the research project in November 2010, saying it was “the business of government” to understand well-being.

The initial findings of the ONS well-being survey were published last summer and found that three-quarters of Britons aged 16 and over rated their overall life satisfaction as seven or more out of 10.

This latest paper, called Measuring national well-being – what matters most to personal well-being?, gave a more detailed analysis of what makes Britons happy. The research is based on data from the Annual Population Survey of around 165,000 UK households from April 2011 to March 2012.

Dawn Snape, an ONS researcher and co-author of the report, said: “We can say from these figures that health has the biggest impact on ratings for personal well-being… On earnings, we can say that people who earn more have higher life satisfaction than people who earn less, but it doesn’t affect happiness or anxiety levels.”

Race also played a part in people’s perceptions of their own happiness. For example, black people’s life-satisfaction rating was 0.5 points lower on average than white people’s.

Juliet Michaelson, a well-being researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said: “The fact that overall well-being is significantly lower for black people and people of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Arab origin is really important. There’s something about the experience of people in these groups that makes them feel their lives are going less well overall and this is something that the Government should be taking very seriously.”

Those who have a named religion rate their life satisfaction 0.1 points higher and their “happiness yesterday” 0.2 points higher on average than those who do not.

Living in a family unit also has an impact on happiness. Households with dependent children have a higher sense that what they do in life is worthwhile, giving ratings 0.2 points higher on average than those with none.

People’s sense of choice and contentment with their situation is also associated with personal well-being, according to the ONS. For example, those who are employed but want a different or additional job have lower levels of personal well-being than employed people who are not looking for another job.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager / Section Manager - Airport Security

    £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a critical role within the secur...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45-55k

    £20000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is an established, ...

    Recruitment Genius: E-Commerce Manager - Fashion Accessories

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Senior / Assistant Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn