The UK Government has published data on well-being in Britain, which will now be measured annually, along with economic, environmental and social indices. This commitment to monitor well-being fulfills a recommendation from a large number of prominent positive psychologists [i].
The research confirms earlier findings [ii] that British people are fairly happy: average life satisfaction was 7.3 out of 10. But happiness was not equally distributed. Those in lower socio-economic groups were less satisfied with almost every aspect of their lives. As the chart of the left shows, they also experienced less general well-being and more depression and loneliness than other groups. The results give even greater urgency to the UK Government’s efforts to reduce inequality.
The landmark decision to track well-being follows political pressure from the leader of the main opposition party on the importance of well-being and public concern following a UNICEF report which placed the UK at the bottom of a league for child well-being.
The British Government is increasingly interested in evidence on the causes of well-being and successful positive interventions, and is supporting a UK community intervention based on the Penn Resiliency Program. Well-being findings are not yet integrated into policy-making in the UK, but the commitment to measure well-being is a very necessary and welcome first step towards this end.
Diener, E. (2006). Guidelines for national indicators of subjective well-being and ill-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 397-404.
Diener, E. & Suh, E.M. (2003). National differences in subjective well-being. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (pp. 435-450). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. New York: Penguin.