Reason to be cheerful: official 'life satisfaction' survey reveals happiness is up and anxiety down

Amid Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations the UK decided to look on bright side of life

Political Correspondent

The UK has barely crept out of recession and the immediate economic outlook doesn't exactly call for champagne and caviar, nevertheless reasons to be cheerful in Britain are on the up, according to new official figures.

A small upward tilt in national happiness over the last year has been recorded by the Office of National Statistics, with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations cited as a possible explanation for the UK taking the advice of Monty Python's Eric Idle - and deciding to look on the bright side of life.

The ONS annual survey, which began in 2010, is carried out to assist the government in developing positive policies that improve well-being. Introduced by David Cameron, it was intended to provide an additional measurement lacking in traditional economic data.

Although ONS statisticians admit they can't offer a precise explanation, it would appear the UK's barrel-load of medals at London 2012, the global success of the Games, and the party atmosphere generation by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, lay behind the modest rise in national happiness.

Those rating their life satisfaction at more than seven out of ten, rose from 75.9 to 77 per cent over the past year. The survey also showed a modest fall in anxiety levels, with the proportion of those surveyed rating anxiety levels of more than six out of ten, falling from 21.8 to 20.9 per cent.

The ONS also broke the figures down by ethnicity and found that whites and Indians reported being the happiest with a 7.48 rating, with the UK's black, African and Caribbean population least happy with a gloom rating of 6.86.

Four out of 10 black people reported their life satisfaction to be low or very low. However only two out of 10 white people delivered a similar negative outlook.

While ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle believed "happiness depends upon ourselves" the severe economic downturn in Greece and other EU countries suggests a greater complexity in factors that affect satisfaction and well-being.

According to the UK's statisticians, the factors most associated with personal well-being included health, employment and relationship status.

In the survey, women rated their anxiety levels higher than men. People aged 45 to 54 were the most dissatisfied, with young people apparently having beyond-average happiness, and the retired showing they were the most content.

Widowed and single people rated their life satisfaction lower than couples.

The ONS compared data across Europe between 2007-2011 and estimates that the British are happier than the French, Germans and Italians.

Out of the 27 EU member states, the UK's happiness ranking on the European Quality of Life Survey is tenth. According to the ONS this showed Britain was a "picture of stability" measured as the gloom rating revealed in other EU countries.

Glen Everett, programme director for well-being measurement at the ONS identified once-in-a-lifetime "events" as a potential source of the UK's fell-good increase.

The Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were quoted in the survey report. It said "These events could have potentially influenced people's assessment of their personal well-being in the 2012/13 period."

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said the new figures published by the ONS would help develop a "trusted and accepted" national statistics for well-being that would help improve the reasoning behind government policy decisions.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

C# Web Developer (C#, MS Dynamics CRM, SQL, SQl Server) London

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Oracle developer- (Oracle, PL/SQL, UNIX/LINUX) - Trade- London

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering