Poorer yes, but the recession has had little impact on Britain's happiness levels


Click to follow
The Independent Online

We may be significantly poorer than we were five years ago, but the deepest recession since the 1930s has had remarkably little impact on our national happiness, according to Britain’s official statisticians.

A new study from the Office for National Statistics – measuring well-being - has found that while Britain’s GDP tumbled in 2009/9 our life satisfaction actually increased.

Since then it has slipped back slightly but we are still just as happy as we were before the financial crisis erupted.

Explaining the figures statisticians responsible suggested that being employed, rather than salary had the largest impact on people’s wellbeing and despite falling real-terms wages employment has held up remarkably since the beginning of the recession.

It also cited other factors – such as health, family relationships and the environment as keeping us reasonably contented even when the financial situation is deteriorating.

The ONS’s Measuring National Wellbeing programme was launched by David Cameron in November 2010 after deciding that the Government needed to be informed not only on economic progress but also on public wellbeing.

David Halpern, head of the Government’s Behavioural Economics unit at the Cabinet Office, said there were areas where the research could have a “significant impact”.

He suggested that the Government could, for example, change the tax and benefits system so that people were never asked to pay more tax or lose more benefits after the event – a demand for payment known to inspire unhappiness.