Sagittarian housewives from Leeds top Britain's happiness league table

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The Independent Online

Housewives in their fifties who have two children are likely to be far happier than their high-earning, careerist counterparts, according to a survey that appears to explode the myth of the frustrated stay-at-home woman.

Housewives in their fifties who have two children are likely to be far happier than their high-earning, careerist counterparts, according to a survey that appears to explode the myth of the frustrated stay-at-home woman.

And if these mothers live in Leeds and their star sign is Sagittarius, they are said to be the happiest people in Britain.

After questioning 2,000 people, researchers have found being a housewife to be the jolliest job in the country. At the other end of the scale, a thirtysomething, separated man from Southampton who works with computers and has no children is the unhappiest.

The cities with the greatest happiness are Leeds, followed by Belfast and Sheffield, with London in ninth position. Southampton is the unhappiest, with Plymouth and Edinburgh the second and third most miserable.

The research concludes that jobs have the most significant impact on our overall levels of happiness. After stay-at-home mothers, health professionals are the most cheerful, as well as those in finance, the media and professional work, while information technology (IT) professions bring the least happiness into the lives of workers.

Jet, the petrol company which conducted the survey, called "smile", found that one in five are unhappy with their lives (approximately 6 million people) and that wealth is not a defining factor. Most people (82 per cent) regard spending time with family and friends as a way of achieving happiness but only 41 per cent say they are currently content with their life.

While it is generally believed that men are happier with their lot, in reality, it is fiftysomething women who are the most fulfilled. One in three men says playing sport and driving his car lifts his mood, while women prefer to eat chocolate and go shopping to cheer themselves up.

And while cohabiting and married people are generally more fulfilled, three quarters of single people also define themselves as content. But divorce or separation is apparently detrimental to happiness levels and 42 per cent of those who are no longer with their partner admit to being unhappy.

Only 3.4 per cent of those interviewed see pensioners as fulfilled although the over-55s are found to be the happiest group in Britain.

Roy Roley, a spokesman for Jet, said the findings overturned popularly-held beliefs of what factors buoyed our spirits. "The study exploded a number of cultural beliefs about when people are likely to be happy. It seems that the old saying is true: money doesn't make you happy.

Health is more important than wealth for 75 per cent of people in the UK. "However, for those in traditionally poorer-paid industries or perceived less wealthy parts of the country, such as Liverpool and Manchester, money is more significant," Mr Roley said.

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