Why Britons look on the bright side

THE British are more content with their lot in life than citizens in most other developed countries in the world, according to a new report.

In an inaugural study of the world's richest nations, people in the UK were found to enjoy a higher than average quality of life, where the working week is shorter and the pay packets bulkier.

The study, undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, found that Britain came 13th out of 34 countries. Australia, Canada and Sweden ranked top for wellbeing, while Turkey came bottom, followed by Mexico and Chile.

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The Better Life index found that Britain "performs very well in overall wellbeing", with the country excelling in areas such as income, environment, governance, and community spirit. In all, the OECD analysed 11 categories, including the likes of housing, health, and education.

However, the economic thinkm tank highlighted several black spots for the UK, warning that progress on tackling child poverty has "stalled," pointing out that its obesity levels are still the highest in Europe, and stating that Britons felt less safe on the streets after dark.

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On the broadest and most subjective measure of life satisfaction, Britain ranked 15th out of 34. Some 68 per cent of Britons said they were satisfied with their lives compared with an OECD average of 59 per cent, while 76 per cent of people in the UK reported having more positive feelings - over the course of an average day than negative ones.

Denmark came top of the life satisfaction category, followed by Canada, Norway and Switzerland, while Hungary came bottom.

Britain ranked fifth - behind Luxembourg, the US, Switzerland and Belgium - when it came to wealth, with an average household disposable income of 16,758 a year, compared to the average of 13,725.

That is despite the fact Britons put in an average of 1,646 hours' work a year - 31 hours and 39 minutes a week - compared to the OECD average of 1,739 hours, or 33 hours and 26 minutes a week).

However, Britain came 17th out of 34 in terms of health, with an adult obesity rate of 24.5 per cent well above the average of 21 per cent. The nation fared worse in terms of education, coming in at 24th, with 70 per cent of adults aged 25 to 64 having earned the equivalent of a high school diploma, below the OECD average of 73 per cent.

Angel Gurria, the OECD's secretary-general, said: "People around the world have wanted to go beyond GDP for some time. This index has extraordinary potential to help us deliver better policies for better lives."