It was the most OK of times, it was the most all right of times, the age of not bad, the season of mustn't grumble. Whatever the weather, real or economic, the national happiness is a robust 7.4 out of 10, and there is seemingly nothing that can be done to shift it.
The first results of the Prime Minister's happiness survey were published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and they are, well, pretty good.
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 indeed the 7.4 out of 10 mark. Not bad, given the doom and gloom that would appear to be all around.
The survey questioned just over 4,000 people over a five-month period this spring and summer. 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 in your life 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 happy) and those divorced or separated 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 from continuous polling between April and August – apart from May – are the first experimental results on subjective well-being from the ONS following the launch last November 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 that we are 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 average was slightly higher – 7.6 to 7.4 – for whether people felt their life was worthwhile, than simply being satisfied by it. But 2.7 per cent of people said they were 10 out of 10, or completely anxious. And some 27 per cent rated their anxiety as higher than five on the scale. The survey will continue in the winter, and the project expanded to include more participants and more detailed questioning.
The results have been released after findings in October by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed the British were among the world's most satisfied people.
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