In the year after the UK narrowly voted to exit the European Union, there was a small but significant increase in the population’s feeling of wellbeing, official statistics show.
The improvements in areas such as life satisfaction and happiness were seen only in England, however. Elsewhere, the rates flatlined.
People in Northern Ireland continued to report the highest levels of wellbeing.
Rates of anxiety increased slightly, but not significantly.
To obtain the Office for National Statistics data, more than 100,000 adult UK residents were asked to answer the following questions, on a scale of nought to 10, with nought being “not at all” and 10 being “completely”:
- Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
- Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
- Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
- Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
A higher proportion of people reported very high levels of life satisfaction, happiness and feelings that life was worthwhile in the year ending June 2017 compared with the previous year.
The average ratings at the end of June 2017 were:
- 7.7 out of 10 for life satisfaction
- 7.9 out of 10 for feeling worthwhile
- 7.5 out of 10 for happiness
- 2.9 out of 10 for anxiety
The ONS statistical bulletin suggests possible social and economic factors that might help explain the results.
“Employment and job satisfaction, our health, the quality of our relationships and our financial situation are just some of the aspects of our lives shown to have an effect,” it says.
For example, the employment rate is at its highest level since comparable records began in 1971 and the unemployment rate is at its joint lowest since 1975.
There have also been improvements is gross domestic product per head and net national disposable income per head. But the ONS points out that real household disposable income per head has fallen for the fourth quarter in a row.
Over the year the data covers there have been “various situations of uncertainty”, says the ONS – a new prime minister, a vote to leave the EU and several terror attacks.
“Considering this, it may be surprising that levels of personal wellbeing are increasing. However, it is important to note these figures are only reported at a country and national level, and are presented over the year. It is therefore possible that any sudden or individual change in personal wellbeing may not be seen in the data,” it says.