There is an increasing interest in trying to understand trends in well-being and, particularly in the current climate, assessing non-financial measures of happiness.
A national survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics includes responses from around 165,000 aged 16 and over and resident in households in the United Kingdom and just under 700 households in Warwickshire. Four questions were asked:
1. Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
2. Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
3. Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
4. Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
In last year’s Quality of Life report, we reported that Warwickshire scored below the national average on these well-being indicators. Despite the county performing consistently above national averages on many social and economic measures, the results of last year’s national well-being survey suggested that Warwickshire’s residents were notably less happy and satisfied than most other parts of the country.
However, the 2012/13 data suggest this is no longer the case as the county performs above the national average for most aspects of well-being (see below).
Looking at these figures in slightly more detail, we see that 81% of Warwickshire’s residents rated their ‘life satisfaction’ as at least seven out of ten. Across the UK as a whole, 77% rated their life satisfaction as at least seven out of ten.
Similarly, 75% of Warwickshire residents rated themselves as seven out of ten or more on the question ‘overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?’ Nationally, the comparative figure was 72%.
Warwickshire is considerably less anxious than the national average according to the 2012/13 results. One in five (20%) Warwickshire residents rated themselves as at least seven out of ten in terms of anxiety. However, the UK figure is nearly twice that at 39%.
This year, the survey results have been released at a district/borough level (although it is worth bearing in mind that the confidence intervals at this level are much higher and therefore the figures should be treated with some degree of caution). At a district level, residents in Stratford-on-Avon District are reported to be the ‘happiest’ in the county while residents in Nuneaton and Bedworth are the most satisfied with their life. The full results of the survey for Warwickshire’s districts and boroughs are shown in the chart below:
ONS have found the biggest drivers of life satisfaction are people’s employment status, their health, and their relationships (in terms of their marital status). Insofar as ONS have been able to explain differences between local authority areas in the life satisfaction levels of their residents, they find differences between areas reflect the circumstances of the people who live there and whether the area is urban or rural; living in a rural area has a positive association with people’s satisfaction.
There will, of course, be considerable variation in well-being within local authorities, at the neighbourhood level. Look out for the release of the latest Quality of Life report which looks at local modelled data released by DCLG in more detail for Warwickshire.
For more information on the well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, see the ONS website.
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