Life satisfaction in England: new wellbeing statistics
A new overview of wellbeing in England, from Defra statisticians, updates measures of overall life satisfaction, satisfaction with selected aspects of life, positive and negative feelings and engagement in positive activities.
The Government is committed to exploring the concept of wellbeing in both policy and measurement. Defra statisticians, with analysts in other government departments, published the first set of measures in 2007, in Sustainable Development Indicators in Your Pocket. The full Wellbeing Update 2010 is available to download alongside historic information on surveys of public attitudes.
The new headline results are:
- People in England rate their satisfaction with life 7.5 (average response when asked in March 2010 to rate satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10)
- There has been little change in overall life satisfaction in recent years
- More people were satisfied with certain aspects of life than in 2007
1. Overall life satisfaction
All respondents were asked to indicate how satisfied they were with their own life (‘All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?’) on a scale ranging between 0 (representing extremely dissatisfied) and 10 (representing extremely satisfied). Values between 7 and 8 are typical of developed nations. Those in higher social grades tended to report higher levels of life satisfaction (7.7 on average for social grades A and B compared with 7.3 for social grades D and E).
- The mean score was 7.5, compared with 7.3 in 2007, 7.5 in 2008 and 7.4 in 2009.
- 5% of respondents gave a response of less than 5 (suggesting that they were dissatisfied overall), compared with 7 per cent in 2007.
- There were significant differences by social grade, with those in social grades A and B (e.g. doctors, solicitors, accountants, teachers, nurses, police officers) scoring an average of 7.7, compared with 7.3 for those in social grade E (e.g. casual labourers, state pensioners, unemployed).
- The gap in life satisfaction between grades AB and E is narrower than in the previous 3 years. This is largely owing to an increase in the average life satisfaction scores of those in social grade E, increasing from 6.8 in 2007 to 7.3 in 2010.
Life satisfaction rating in 2010, by social grade [?]
2. Satisfaction with selected aspects of life
Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with eleven different aspects of their life (on a scale from very dissatisfied to very satisfied).
- Compared with 2007, there were statistically significant increases in the proportion of people ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ for 5 aspects of life – satisfaction with day to day activities, health, leisure, respondents’ ability to influence their life and achievement of goals.
- The only statistically significant decrease was for satisfaction with relationships.
- There were large differences by social grade – those in lower social grades tended to be less satisfied with all aspects of their lives, compared with higher social grades. The largest difference was satisfaction with health – 68 per cent of those in social grade E were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their health, compared with 86 per cent for those in social grades A or B. Furthermore, 22 per cent of those in social grade E were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with their health compared with only 5 per cent for those in social grades A or B.
- Age also appeared strongly related to satisfaction with certain aspects of life. Whilst satisfaction with certain aspects of life tends to increase with age – feeling part of a community, future financial security, accommodation and the local area, satisfaction with other aspects decreases – achieving goals, the ability to influence one’s life and health.
Overall satisfaction with selected aspects of life, 2007 and 2010
3. Experience of positive and negative feelings
Respondents were asked about the frequency of positive and negative feelings during the past two weeks.
- For six of eight selected feelings, compared with 2007, there were statistically significant increases in the proportions of respondents in 2010 having had positive feelings, or never having had negative feelings every day or most days.
- Proportionately fewer people in lower social grades reported positive feelings and proportionately more reported negative feelings.
4. Engagement in positive activities
Respondents were asked how often in the last two weeks they had engaged in four different positive activities.
- More respondents in 2010 had engaged in social activities and spent time with family or friends every day or most days than in 2007. There was little change in the frequency of respondent’s engaging in leisure activities.
- There were only small differences by social grade, except for engaging in leisure activities, where proportionately fewer respondents in lower social grades doing this every day or most days.
Engagement in positive activities, 2007 and 2010
- Defra: e-Digest Statistics about public attitudes and behaviours toward the environment – including full Wellbeing Update 2010
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