Modern Britons are wealthier but less happy than those in the 1950s

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The Independent Online

We may be better off but Britons are less happy today than they were in the 1950s, according to a survey. And we want the Government to put it right.

In the study of happiness levels, just over one-third of people surveyed described themselves as "very happy", compared with more than half questioned in a similar study in 1957.

And 80 per cent of those who took part in the survey thought that the Government's main aim should be to make people happier rather than wealthier.

In the 1957 poll, carried out by Gallup, 52 per cent of those interviewed reported feeling "very happy", outnumbering the 42 per cent of "fairly happy" souls.

Now, it seems, there are more mildly content than ecstatic among us: the GfK NOP poll of 1,001 people aged 15 and over found 56 per cent of those taking part to be fairly happy, and 36 per cent very happy.

Five per cent, meanwhile, admitted to being "fairly unhappy", with three per cent saying they were "very unhappy".

However, we are not interested in pursuing any artificial simulations of happiness. Three-quarters of those who took part in the survey, commissioned by BBC2 for its series The Happiness Formula, said that they would not take a drug that improved their mood, even if it were legal. Instead, relationships were deemed the most likely way of finding happiness for most of those in the survey, with good health coming second.