national happiness index

Kate Allen

With the ONS publishing the results of its latest attempt to measure British people’s wellbeing, it’s worth a quick recap of how this compares to other countries’ methods as the collection of international wellbeing data is at an early stage.

Whilst the OECD is in the process of developing guidance to harmonise standards and approaches, existing surveys – including the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey and the Gallup World Poll – vary in approaches.

The ONS questions combined short-term measures with longer-term, more reflective indicators, on a scale of 0-10.

Gallup asks people to rate the quality of their life on a scale of 0-10, while the ESS and the WVS both ask respondents how satisfied they are with their life as a whole, again on a scale of 0-10. They also ask how happy they are, with the ESS again using a 11-point scale and the WVS offering a phrase-based menu of choices. Read more >>

Emily Cadman

It’s perhaps no surprise that today’s UK ONS paper, a component of its measuring national wellbeing programme appears to show a nation unhappy with its work life balance, with 48 per cent reporting low satisfaction rates. It has become someone of a truism that long-hour-working Britons are unhappy with their lot. But are they really?

The most interesting part of the release is the apparent disconnect between individuals’ attitudes when they assess their work and leisure satisfaction levels separately and together.


Somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied(%)

 Read more >>

Keith Fray

Amid talk of how governments should measure ‘happiness’, we should perhaps note that ‘misery’ – at least economic misery – may have recently peaked.

This week’s releases of inflation data in the UK and US, and labour market numbers for the UK should see the ‘misery index’ continue to fall in both countries.

This index – simply the unemployment rate plus the annual rate of inflation – has seen a modest revival of interest among economists in recent years. Read more >>

Emily Cadman

Ever wondered what happened to the idea of a national happiness index, trailed by David Cameron last year?

Well, statisticians from the Office of National Statistics have been quietly working away on the project. In December the first set of initial analyses, based on a sample size of 4,200, concluded that three quarters of British adults rated their “life satisfaction” as seven or more out of 10. Read more >>