The Office for National Statistics has released its latest findings on personal wellbeing, based on data collected between April 2014 and March 2015.
The analysis is presented by country, region and local areas. The analysis also looks at year on year changes since 2011/12 when the personal well-being data was first collected.
Wellbeing is measured via the Annual Population Survey (APS) which includes 4 questions which are used to monitor personal well-being in the UK:
- Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
- Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
- Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
- Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
People are asked to give their answers on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”. These questions allow people to make an assessment of their life overall, as well as providing an indication of their day-to-day emotions.
Although “yesterday” may not be a typical day for an individual, the large sample means that these differences “average out” and provide a reliable assessment of the self-reported anxiety and happiness of the adult population in the UK over the year.
The main points found by the data include:
- Reported personal well-being has improved every year since financial year ending 2012 when data were first collected, suggesting that an increasing number of people in the UK are feeling positive about their lives.
- Proportions reporting the highest levels of personal well-being have increased since the financial year ending 2012 for each of the 4 measures considered. The greatest improvement has been for levels of anxiety.
- The proportion of people rating their well-being at the lowest levels for all 4 of the measures has reduced, but not as much as the proportion reporting high levels has grown.
- People in Northern Ireland gave higher average ratings for personal well-being for all measures except anxiety compared to the other 3 UK countries (based on figures before rounding). This has been the case in every year since data were first collected.
- People in London reported lower personal well-being on average for each of the measures than the equivalent UK averages, but London has seen improvements across all the average measures of personal well-being, particularly in reductions to anxiety since data were first collected.
- Since the financial year ending 2012, average ratings of personal well-being have improved significantly across all measures in the West Midlands. The region also had the lowest average anxiety rating of any English region in financial year ending 2015.
- Wales was the only UK country that did not have any significant positive improvements between the financial year ending 2014 and the latest estimates across any of the measures for average ratings.
- The North West of England reported increases in the rate of personal well-being for 3 out of 4 of the measures, compared with the financial year ending 2014.
- The North East and Yorkshire and The Humber were the only 2 English regions with no significant reductions in low levels of well-being across any of the personal well-being measures compared with the financial year ending 2014.
You can find more commentary and the full data sets on the ONS website here.