Public to be asked to rate marriage and social life

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The Independent Online

Members of the public will be asked to rate the state of their marriage and how active their social life is under new plans to measure the nation's well-being. More than 40 years on from Robert Kennedy's famous maxim that life cannot be measured by Gross National Product alone, British statisticians will next year begin publishing the new well-being indicators.

The Office of National Statistics has announced the areas of life it will look to measure – and they could prove illuminating. Questions include asking whether people like their job, their neighbours and if they trust their political representatives.

Statisticians will also ask how satisfied people are with their lives, how happy they felt yesterday and how anxious they are. Such "subjective" questions will be added to more measurable indicators such as how long people work, how healthy they are and what skills they possess to create an annual national "well-being report".

The consideration of happiness and how to maximise it is not new. It has exercised philosophers from Socrates to John Stuart Mill.