14 Jan

Personal well-being and life satisfaction have risen across UK in the past six years according to the Office for National Statistics.

In the past six years average life satisfaction ratings in UK have improved by 3.4% with life satisfaction improving by 3.6% in England, 3.2% in Wales, 2.5% in Northern Ireland and 2.1% in Scotland.

In 2019 there was little change in personal well-being measures in UK apart from a slight improvement in average happiness ratings that increased from 7.52 to 7.56.

Over this period, the only significant change at country level was in Northern Ireland, where anxiety ratings increased from 2.53 to 2.83 (out of 10).

In the six years since 2013 average life satisfaction across UK improved by 3.4% with the largest improvement recorded in London (4.6%).

Over the same long-term period, average anxiety ratings in the UK improved by 5.3%, with the North West seeing the largest improvement (by 9.7%).

Across the UK areas with persistently higher average well-being ratings included the Orkney Islands, Na h-Eileanan Siar, and Shetland Islands in Scotland, and Fermanagh and Omagh in Northern Ireland.

Over the same six-year period, areas with persistently lower average well-being ratings included the London boroughs of Lambeth, Hackney, Islington and Camden.

UK personal well-being

In 2019 there was very little change in the ratings of personal well-being measures. The only slight improvement was in the average rating of happiness, which increased slightly across the UK from 7.52 to 7.56, measured on a scale from 0 to 10.

For other measures of personal well being – such as life satisfaction, feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile, and anxiety – average scores remained level with no significant changes over this period.

At country level, there was an 11.9% increase in anxiety ratings in Northern Ireland, from 2.53 to 2.83 (out of 10). This was driven by a substantial decrease in people reporting very low ratings of anxiety from 47.0% to 41.1%.

Looking at the long term, the anxiety scores in Northern Ireland continuously improved over the last seven years. The year ending March 2018 marked the end of a generally downward trend in anxiety in Northern Ireland since we began measuring in the year ending March 2012, with anxiety increasing markedly between 2018 and 2019.

As has been the case in previous years, people in Northern Ireland gave better average ratings for life satisfaction, feelings that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness than people in England, Scotland or Wales. The increase in average anxiety score seen in 2018 to 2019 brought the average for Northern Ireland closer in line with the rest of the UK.

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