In The News

26 Jul 2011

So, how do you measure wellbeing and happiness?

How happy are you right now? Content? Satisfied? Anxious? Crucially, who else feels the way you do?

The Office for National Statistics was asked by the Prime Minister David Cameron last November to find out – or at least to work out how to find out. National Statistician Jill Matheson has been in charge of the £2m a year wellbeing project, which reported for the first time today after a six month-long consultation. That is a crucial difference: happiness is one intangible thing; wellbeing is – they say – measurable in the same way our economy is. Says Matheson

It is essential that the set of measures of well-being is relevant and well-based in what matters to people, both as individuals and for the UK as a whole

So, how will they do it? The study has been split into a search for two types of indicators – subjective ones about how we feel and objective measures of things that affect our wellbeing.

On the subjective front, work started in April, with four extra questions to the 200,000 people in the Integrated Household Survey (IHS). People were answer the following questions, on a scale of 0 to 10:

• how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
• how happy did you feel yesterday?
• how anxious did you feel yesterday?
• to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

The first results are expected back in July next year.

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