Cheer up! Bri­tain is get­ting hap­pier

Record em­ploy­ment lev­els lift na­tional mood

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - S.doughty@dai­ly­mail.co.uk By Steve Doughty So­cial Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

AMID all the re­cent global tur­moil and con­cern over rising vi­o­lent crime, some cheer­ing news: Bri­tons are hap­pier than ever.

Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics reveal the UK’s hap­pi­ness lev­els and gen­eral ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our lives in­creased last year, de­spite a spate of ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

In fact, we are more con­tented now than at any point since the well-be­ing mea­sures were first pub­lished seven years ago.

The Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics re­port on well-be­ing in 2017 fol­lows re­search last week from the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics that linked be­ing happy to hav­ing a job – sug­gest­ing Bri­tain’s record low lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment could be be­hind the bon­homie. An in­ter­na­tional panel of aca­demics said peace of mind is pro­duced by eco­nomic growth, with the un­em­ploy­ment rate the most im­por­tant fac­tor the pub­lic con­sid­ers.

The lat­est cal­cu­la­tions are based on well-be­ing ques­tions in ONS sur­veys, which asked peo­ple to rank out of ten how happy they were on the pre­vi­ous day, to what ex­tent they re­garded their lives as worth­while, how sat­is­fied they were with life, and how anx­ious they were. For 2017, av­er­age hap­pi­ness was cal­cu­lated at 7.53 out of ten, liv­ing worth­while lives at 7.88, and life sat­is­fac­tion at 7.69. There was no sig­nif­i­cant change in anx­i­ety lev­els, which cur­rently av­er­age at 2.91 out of ten, the ONS said.

The coun­try’s rising con­tent­ment is largely fu­elled by Scot­land, where scores in­creased across the three pos­i­tive well­be­ing in­di­ca­tors. How­ever, there are signs there is a higher pro­por­tion of very un­happy and dis­sat­is­fied peo­ple in Wales. For the UK as a whole, hap­pi­ness has in­creased by more than 3 per cent since 2011, ac­cord­ing to the fig­ures, with sim­i­lar up­ward moves for the other pos­i­tive cat­e­gories. The only fall in hap­pi­ness lev­els dur­ing that pe­riod came in 2013.

The ONS re­port yes­ter­day said: ‘Be­tween the years end­ing De­cem­ber 2016 and 2017, there were im­prove­ments in av­er­age rat­ings of hap­pi­ness and feel­ing that the things done in life are worth­while for the UK over­all. There were no sig­nif­i­cant changes in av­er­age rat­ings of life sat­is­fac­tion or anx­i­ety. Im­prove­ments in worth­while and hap­pi­ness rat­ings in the UK were driven by Scot­land,’ the re­port said, adding that ‘av­er­age life sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings also im­proved for Scot­land; how­ever, there were no sig­nif­i­cant changes for rat­ings of anx­i­ety.’

The ONS said: ‘A larger pro­por­tion of peo­ple in Wales re­ported low lev­els of life sat­is­fac­tion, worth­while and hap­pi­ness com­pared to the UK av­er­age. For ex­am­ple, 4.3 per cent of peo­ple in Wales re­ported a score of nought to four for their worth­while rat­ings com­pared with only 3.4 per cent in the whole of the UK.’

This week has seen a new set of un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures, which show the best em­ploy­ment and un­em­ploy­ment rates since the first half of the 1970s.

The LSE re­port on hap­pi­ness last week said that ‘al­most to a per­son, our ex­perts agree that un­em­ploy­ment is the macroe­co­nomic phe­nom­e­non most detri­men­tal to na­tional well-be­ing’.

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