2.1 Statistical measures of wellbeing
The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS, 2023) measures wellbeing at a national level using a series of indicators against which they ask people to rate their level of satisfaction with different aspects of their lives. The indicators include the following:
- Personal wellbeing – are they satisfied with their lives overall; how worthwhile do they think the things they do are; how would they rate their happiness yesterday; how would they rate their anxiety yesterday?
- Relationships – do they have people who would be there for them if they needed help; are they in unhappy relationships; how often do they feel lonely; do they trust other people?
- Health – do they have a reported disability; are they satisfied with their health; is there evidence indicating depression or anxiety; what might a healthy life expectancy be for them?
- Occupation (‘what we do’) – are they unemployed; are they satisfied with their amount of leisure time; have they volunteered more than once in the last 12 months; have they engaged with/participated in an arts or cultural activity at least three times in the last year?
- Location (‘where we live’) – have they been a victim of crime; have they felt safe walking alone after dark; have they felt they belonged to their neighbourhood; have they accessed the natural environment at least once a week in the last 12 months; are they satisfied with their accommodation?
- Personal finance – are they satisfied with their household income; have they found it difficult to get by financially?
These questions offer a wider view of wellbeing than you may originally have considered. Some of them will be revisited in Section 3. Next, however, you’re going to look at a psychological perspective on wellbeing.