WE ARE happy, and they know it. The first annual results of the British government’s new happiness index has found that Scots enjoy higher levels of wellbeing than the English, with Edinburgh revealed as the happiest capital in the UK.
According to figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Scotland has a slightly higher level of wellbeing, with 77.4 per cent of those interviewed reporting a medium to high life satisfaction compared to 75.7 per cent in England.
Meanwhile, four out of the top ten local authorities in Britain were in Scotland, with the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and Aberdeenshire rated highly for life satisfaction, the number of residents who felt happy and worthwhile. Aberdeen was rated the highest-ranking city in Britain for life satisfaction, while London and Birmingham were ranked at the bottom for wellbeing.
The government’s statisticians discovered that the average Briton rates their “life satisfaction” as 7.4 out of 10, according to the first results of David Cameron’s “happiness index”.
• How happy are you? Find out in the interactive graphic here
Asked how worthwhile they found their activities, the average response was higher – 7.7 out of 10 – ONS found. However, one in five rated their anxiety levels at more than five out of 10.
Women tended to have a greater sense than men of life satisfaction and believe what they do is worthwhile, but they reported higher levels of anxiety.
People aged 16-to-19 and 65-to-79 displayed the highest levels of satisfaction, the ONS found. The figures come from the first integrated household survey of 200,000 people aged 16 and over between April 2011 and March 2012.
It was conducted as part of the Prime Minister’s initiative, launched in 2010, to assess the wellbeing of the nation.
Yesterday Glenn Everett, ONS programme director for the Measuring National Well-being Programme, said: “By examining and analysing both objective statistics as well as subjective information, a more complete picture of national wellbeing can be formed. Understanding people’s views of wellbeing is an important addition to official statistics and has potential uses in the policy-making process and to aid other decision-making.”
Asked how satisfied they were with their lives, 75.9 per cent of people gave a response of seven or more out of 10, while 6.6 per cent answered less than five out of 10. On how happy they felt yesterday, 10.9 per cent said less than five out of 10. Asked how anxious they felt yesterday, 21.8 per cent said more than five out of 10, with the mean average being 3.1. The ethnic group with the highest average anxiety rating was Arab, on 3.7 out of 10. Black people had the lowest average life satisfaction, on 6.7. Some 45 per cent of unemployed people gave a life satisfaction rating of less than seven, compared with just 20 per cent among those with a job.
The ONS work has been given a budget of £2 million a year until 2014-15, to cover the cost of staffing and field work.
Commenting on the figures, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Today’s figures on life satisfaction and subjective wellbeing show that the majority of Scotland’s people feel positive about their lives. Of course, we must not be complacent, and there are Scots in some areas and communities whose lives still need to be improved.”