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Has the credit crunch left us poorer... but happier?

Mark Easton | 15:36 UK time, Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I need your help with a question. Why are we apparently happier today in the middle of a financial crisis than we were at the height of the economic boom?

The government says it wants to keep track of the happiness of the nation and today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its thoughts on the best way to measure our subjective well-being [422KB PDF].

In considering the Treasury's demand for "broader indicators of well-being and sustainability", the researchers have been looking at the existing data measuring how satisfied we are with our lives.

The surprising finding is that, despite the economic gloom, Britain remains remarkably chipper. If anything, we are a bit happier now than we were before the credit crunch.

I know there will be some readers rolling their eyes at the whole idea that you can have a meaningful measure of something as intangible as happiness, but that view is dismissed by a host of academic studies, not least the 2009 report of the Stiglitz Commission [114KB PDF] set up by President Sarkozy and including no less than five Nobel prize winning economists. (I wrote about their report then.)

The ONS agrees that "recent developments suggest that subjective wellbeing is a valid construct that can be measured reliably" and says the question now "is not whether to measure subjective wellbeing, but how".

In fact, the government has been asking plenty of questions about life satisfaction for years and it looks certain they will continue to do so.

The Conservative manifesto explicitly pledged to "develop a measure of well-being that encapsulates the social value of state action" and the coalition's budget report said ministers intended to review how the Stiglitz report "should affect the sustainability and well-being indicators collected by Defra".

Defra is home to Whitehall's happiness central and officials have been quietly posting all kinds of fascinating data on the department's website assessing the way Britain feels about itself [138KB PDF].

One might imagine that national well-being has taken a bit of a knock with the recession, but the latest data suggest there has been little or no discernible change in our mood.

The standard question for measuring subjective well-being is this:

"All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays? Please answer on a scale of 0-10, where 0 means extremely dissatisfied and 10 means extremely satisfied."

In 2007, the average answer was 7.3 out of 10. In 2008 it was 7.5, 2009 it was 7.4 and, as reported from a survey in March this year, the current score is 7.5 out of 10.

table comparing people's happiness scores from a survey between 2007 and 2010

There we were back in March 2007, before Northern Rock, before Lehman Brothers, before the credit crunch, before the recession, and our happiness level was 7.3. Now, it is 7.5. Not a significant change perhaps, but good evidence that economic well-being is no proxy for emotional well-being.

Chart showing life satisfaction rating in 2010, by social grade

AB: Doctor, solicitor, accountant, teacher, nurse, police officer
C: Junior manager, student, clerical worker, foreman, plumber, bricklayer
D: Manual workers, shop workers, apprentices
E: Casual labourers, state pensioners, unemployed

Here's how satisfaction relates to what are defined as "social grades".

85 per cent of respondents gave a response between six and ten (suggesting that they were satisfied overall), compared with 82 per cent in 2007. 5 per cent of respondents gave a response of less than five (suggesting that they were dissatisfied overall), compared with 7 per cent in 2007. There were significant differences by social grade, with those in social grades A and B (e.g. doctors, solicitors, accountants, teachers, nurses, police officers) scoring an average of 7.7, compared with 7.3 for those in social grade E (e.g. casual labourers, state pensioners, unemployed). The gap in life satisfaction between grades AB and E is narrower than in the previous 3 years. This is largely owing to an increase in the average life satisfaction scores of those in social grade E, increasing from 6.8 in 2007 to 7.3 in 2010.

I don't know about you, but I find this all a bit puzzling. The poorest in society seem to be getting noticeably happier just when one might expect them to be become gloomier.

And the story gets even more counter-intuitive when you look at the answers to questions about selected aspects of people's lives.

Overall satisfaction with selected aspects of life

People say they are no less satisfied with their future financial security now than they were before the downturn. If anything, they are slightly more optimistic.

Perhaps, there was a sense in 2007 that the good times couldn't last, that something bad was bound to happen. Maybe the recession has persuaded people that economic growth is now more sustainable.

A clue to what is going on is offered by a table from the previous year's data. This looks at how those "social grades" measure up in comparison with the average. Group E, the poorest group, is below average on every measure except 'community'. The professional group is above average on every measure except 'community'.

Percentage of people fairly or very satisfied with selected aspects of life, by social grade, 2007

The biggest difference is on future financial security where group AB is almost 10 points above average and group E is almost 15% below.

It is hardly a surprise that the better-off are more confident than those in low incomes, but the central conundrum remains. Why, on almost any measure you choose to pick, are Britons more satisfied with their lives now than they were when the economy was at its height? Suggestions please.

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:07pm on 14 Sep 2010, Alex wrote:

    Once you have enpough to eat and shelter from the weather, money doesn't make you happy.....

    Read The Spirit Level

    By Wilkinson and Pickett.

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  • 2. At 4:21pm on 14 Sep 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    The poorest are happiest because they don't know what is about to hit them. Also there are a few good storylines in the soaps, X factor, Rooney gossip etc etc etc.

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  • 3. At 4:22pm on 14 Sep 2010, Radar wrote:

    In Britain we love a good moan!

    Either that or the financial crisis has made people realise that money isn't everything! People were trying to keep up with the Jones's, which they couldn't do, now they are greatful for what they do have.

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  • 4. At 4:33pm on 14 Sep 2010, healthytoes wrote:


    Maybe just shows that happier people are more likely to answer the questions....
    Alternatively, those who were unhappy but would answer before, are now SO unhappy they don't.
    Perhaps they've just fallen in love so everything else seems rosy.
    Or maybe they're all happier because there has been a change of government.

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  • 5. At 5:18pm on 14 Sep 2010, Penny_Walker_SD wrote:

    Fascinating, as usual, Mark. I'm really interested by the 180 degree flip of who is on balance satisfied and who is on balance unsatisfied right at the bottom of the last graph.

    When asked about 'community', the D/Es are now more satisfied and the AB/Cs less satisfied.

    It would be really interesting to understand what that's all about!

    In addition to Spirit Level, as suggested by BloominEck, there's always something interesting to find in NEF's Happy Planet Index, which correlates well-being with ecological impact. http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

    Penny

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  • 6. At 5:23pm on 14 Sep 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    "The biggest difference is on future financial security where group AB is almost 10 points above average and group E is almost 15% below." (Mark)

    No, the biggest difference is the 'Community' criterion (bottom histogram in Mark's blog topic), where the lower two socio-economic groups perceive value in, and satisfaction with, 'community' ; whereas the upper two s-e classes are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their community. This is the exact reversal when compared to all other criteria, and patently the two groups are seeing different things in the word 'community'.
    For s-e classes D&E a community (probably) means a mutually supportive group of individuals thrown together in the same boat. S-e classes A,B&C (probably) reject the concept of community and reject the values that underpin the concept, prefering self-containment, insulation and segregation.

    If the 'value placed on community' is loosely inversely correlated with income level/social grade, then a Governmental programme based on happiness indices will need to focus on community values and provision when addressing the most needy in our society.

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  • 7. At 5:53pm on 14 Sep 2010, Whistling Neil wrote:

    Pre-recession people worried more about what they did not have and could not afford to have but felt they should have because 'everyone' else had them which made them less happy.i.e. I have a 300K house but want a 350K one like X, so youare unhappy with what you have for envy/desire for something you don't.

    During/Post recession people feel lucky they still have most or all of what they actually had originally and are no longer so worried about things they never actually had in the first place. i.e. just happy to still have the old house rather than no house irrespective of what it's worth.

    It is just like a report I read about injection pain - if the doctor says it will hurt a lot then people report less pain than if they say it won't hurt a bit when people rate the pain as much greater. Their expectations/aspirations are the key factor.

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  • 8. At 6:31pm on 14 Sep 2010, Pyrope wrote:

    Perhaps the difference can be explained in terms of the financial disparity between rich and poor. Most people don't care about how objectively well off they are, but rather compare themselves to those they see in the world around them. The credit crunch has been perceived to have hit the wealthiest hardest and, whether ot not that is true, this means that those who are less well off are feeling a bit happier about their lot.

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  • 9. At 6:40pm on 14 Sep 2010, Will wrote:

    Such minor movement in such a subjective statistic could be attributed to differences between individual people sampled. Can you actually perform a proper hypothesis test against those stats?

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  • 10. At 6:48pm on 14 Sep 2010, Forlornehope wrote:

    During the 1990's there was a conundrum in the European auto industry. When asked about the number of problems with their new cars, consumers reported a rapidly improving position. However, when asked to rate the cars on "freedom from faults" the consumer satisfaction was deteriorating. What appeared to be happening was that expectations were rising faster than the industry was improving. A reverse effect may be happening here in that expectations have gone down much faster than the reality.

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  • 11. At 7:24pm on 14 Sep 2010, Graphis wrote:

    Post 7 hits the nail on the head. Plus, many people are fed-up of the doom and gloom and are making a conscious effort to ignore it. Compare fashions and pop music, as a trivial example, in the 80's recession: bright clothes, fun, happy etc. People seek escapism from the harsh realities, not in spending what they don't have, but in being grateful for what they do. Besides, there's also a sense that the recession hasn't really begun to bite yet, not with all these cuts looming over us. It'll be interesting to take the survey again a year, when there's another half-a-million on the dole....

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  • 12. At 7:31pm on 14 Sep 2010, prudeboy wrote:

    Resigned to our fate. Post gone. Pensions gone. NHS going.
    Let's face it. What are we going to do? Post to a few BBC blogs?
    Yeah right..

    Now if I lived in the USA there is the Tea Party. Frightening.
    I wonder if Primark will be doing a range of black shirts.

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  • 13. At 7:35pm on 14 Sep 2010, watriler wrote:

    Happy? - I am just angry about what has happened and is going to happen to the section of the population that will disproportionately suffer from the cuts to welfare, public services and jobs. Try measuring when the cuts have really take hold.

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  • 14. At 8:02pm on 14 Sep 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    The most recent measure is MARCH of 2010 - at that point the economomy was just a few months past the bottom of the cycle and starting to come back up.

    In terms of perceptions/emotions that could be a good point - light at the end of the tunnnel.

    It would be interesting to do it again now with economic growth declining, consumer confidence down, businesses going bust and millions facing unemployment.

    Would people be so confident, secure and content as we head back into recession?

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  • 15. At 8:23pm on 14 Sep 2010, barbara99 wrote:

    Happy? whos happy?

    as far as i can see education is so much worse than 20 years ago...we are fighting mad for our kids, trying all sorts of tricks to get into half decent schools, standards of education are poorer than before (everyone knows that an O level of yester year is far superior to todays joke of a gcse), graduates are burdened with massive loans, no guarantee that theres a job for them at the end of the day, british workers are being sidelined for foreign workers who will accept lower salaries, our cities are turning into ghettos, the mass immigration has devastated us actually (want a laugh? Brent runs special Polish swimming classes cos apparently they swim in a different way i guess?), housing is so expensive we cant buy more than a shoe box....and then who even knows if there is a decent pension, we cant take care of our elderly or our most vulnerable, what is there to be happy about? legacy of labour. they need to be taken to court for negligence of britain.

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  • 16. At 10:04pm on 14 Sep 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    People are happier because the downturn made them realize that they no longer have to keep up with the Jones's. Many people in America have downsized to smaller homes or apartments that they can actually afford. Living within one's means is very gratifying and having downsized you realize how very little you actually need to survive and stay happy. It's also pulled families closer together. My family eats nearly every night at my house and my daughter does her grocery shopping in my refrigerator. It brings such a smile to see her beautiful face. I catch that indescribable essence of youth that wafts through my living room.
    The downturn has been difficult for many people but its also solidified our human bonds. As the iconic Martha Stewart would say, "That's a good thing!"

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  • 17. At 10:42pm on 14 Sep 2010, dinosaur wrote:

    This survey data is undermined because it is confused about "Social Grade".

    Specifically, by classing "unemployed" as social group E, it's not clear where the many managers, finance workers, graduate engineers etc (who would think of themselves as Group A or B) made redundant in the recession and still seeking work, would appear. An interesting theory is that being confronted by a tactless market researcher who assigned them to Group E caused their unhappiness.

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  • 18. At 00:20am on 15 Sep 2010, Inannani wrote:

    I am going from discontent to desperate: I've been actively jobhunting for over a year now and not been called to any interviews yet. I have two bosses for casual/part time work, but the income is barely enough to pay bills (I'm tapping into my personal savings to keep us afloat). I can't remember when we did anything for entertainment that didn't involve the internet or tv. So I don't understand what the article is talking about.

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  • 19. At 01:09am on 15 Sep 2010, arny wrote:

    5 years ago house prices had just tripled and it seemed like everyone was going to shinny new universities. Big sense of being left behind for everyone without a house in a expensive area, or without a bright career in front of them. Aspiration is a bit of a lie, it stands to reason not everyone can get ahead of everyone else. Someone in rented accommodation earning 15 thousand a year from a perfectly worthwhile job is less likely to be happy if the news is talking about people getting 30 thousand a year from the rise in the value of their houses, or people spending 20 thousand on a university education that used to be free. Even if they're not consciously aware of it it's still obvious to them intuitively that their social position is going down. Ironically a lot of the people actually going to university or living on middle class housing estates probably weren't happy either.

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  • 20. At 03:28am on 15 Sep 2010, madeofjam wrote:

    Call me a cynic, but my bet is that this is pure Government Propaganda. Either that, or the study is severely flawed. I scanned the original article (the link is given in the article) and it seems a good proportion of the data is taken from Defra (A UK goverment department). I'm going to read further into it tomorrow (it's 3 in the morning and far too late for more than skim reading). I'd also add it asks things like "are you SERIOUSLY worried about being a victim of crime or being violently attacked". I would suggest the word seriously is strong enough to mean that most people wouldn't say yes (seriously worried to me suggests a constant and profound fear).

    Speaking from a purely personal point of view I have never felt so miserable or pessimistic about my present or future as I do at the current time (and I am generally a very optimistic person). I am 29, unemployed (despite having a red brick degree and being a qualified teacher), and in a year of writing endless applications I haven't been deemed worthy of a single interview. I am too experienced (read: expensive) to teach, and I'm too either too old/unexperienced to do anything else it seems (I have applied for all manner of occupations, including those that pay under half my teaching salary). I can't retrain, because I can't afford to, and I wouldn't know what to re-train in anyway (since there don't seem to be any jobs anywhere).

    I don't go out, I can't afford to buy clothes, and I'm struggling to eat properly and pay the bills. Once the government cut the benefits further (and no matter what they say IT IS NOT possible to buy flat screen TVs, new trainers, and iphones on jobseekers allowance! - families who have those things must be doing something on the sly) I literally won't be able to afford to live.

    Is this why I have a 15 grand student loan? And why I worked so hard to become a teacher? To sit on the dole? To be overlooked by schools because they can't afford to employ anyone but NQTs? And not to be able to supply, because classes can now be taught by teaching assistants (again, far cheaper).

    When I was younger I thought I could do anything I wanted. Now I'd be happy to be given tthe chance to do anything at all.

    Is this happiness?

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  • 21. At 09:11am on 15 Sep 2010, DibbySpot wrote:

    The increase in happiness is proably the result of the ending of policies that see a constant increase in taxes and council tax for less and less service.

    The idea that those with jobs will be treated with some fairness and those unemployed who could work will be forced to work is a cause for happiness. No longer will the employed be forced to fund the cigarette and booze filled lives of the unemployed who watch their huge LCD TVs in homes we are foced to pay for.

    That make me happy.

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  • 22. At 09:26am on 15 Sep 2010, JohnT wrote:

    Sorry to be cynical but I think there is some truth is the fact that people are happier because they feel everybody is the same boat, even some of the high earners. People feel better when they see some people who used to be aloof because of their wealth are brought down to earth a bit.

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  • 23. At 10:26am on 15 Sep 2010, dinosaur wrote:

    #18, #20

    Your experience of the jobs market corresponds to mine - currently unemployed 10 months, after spending the last decade wandering around the country from one 2-3 year contract to the next. Over those months, something like 35% of my benefit (£62-30 total pw) has been spent on job search costs.

    I've just qualified for help under "Flexible New Deal", and recieved the booklet FND 10/09. Roughly this uses
    25 words to describe the help I'll be given
    98 words to describe what it requires from me
    7 pages to describe the sanctions if I fail to comply

    Strangely enough, as I already spend 25-30 hours per week looking for work, I find it depressing to be confronted by something that looks quite so much like an ASBO, or a non-custodial sentence.

    One of the biggest barriers we face is that each time we send off an application form or CV, it's likely to fall into the hands of someone like DibbySpot. His/her first thought on seeing a period of unemployment recorded is

    "the cigarette and booze filled lives of the unemployed who watch their huge LCD TVs in homes we are foced to pay for"

    Now and then I start to wonder if we're being made miserable, just to keep the DibbySpots happy?





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  • 24. At 9:56pm on 15 Sep 2010, davidm wrote:

    Mark

    Economic theory would suggest that people base current consumption on not just their current income but also on future income [discounted for expected inflation] and therefore as you indicate, future expectations of things getting worse would have had an effect on happiness levels - as would uncertainty. By March this year we were being told the recession had ended, albeit with risks of a double dip, and there was no doubt optimism that a new govt would replace the tired old one, as most people expected a new Tory govt [even if with a small majority] - it was only closer to election that the media and pollsters seriously discussed a hung parliament or coalition.

    We were also at the tail end of an unsuccessful and tired government losing its credibility and is own hope of survival with a very unpopular PM and not one but 2 unpopular wars which the public didnt originally nor by March 2007 wholly support.

    Remember some history - in March 2007 Blair had not quite yet left, nor even announced his date of stepping down, instead there was destructive and widely reported infighting within the govt between the Blair and Brown camps. Even later in 2007, there were floods in our glorious summer, & despite some initial optimism about Brown replacing Blair, very soon this turned to widespread criticim in the media as Brown first wound things up for a snap election then dithered. The public lost confidence in their government's ability to govern, never a good or happy place. So throughout 2007 the public probably felt rather uncertain about its own government, which tends not to help happiness.

    last but not least, people care a lot about what happens in sport - remember in 2006-7 England captained by Flintoff had lost 5-0 to the Australians. england getting to the rugby world cup was very much a surprise, whilst the England football team under Steve Maclaren, following the failures under Sven-Göran Eriksson, were even worse, proceeding to fail to qualify for the European Championships. By contrast now people are more realistic about the team's limitations, the cricket and rugby teams though not world beaters, are improving and showing potential to at least compete with the better teams, and we have the 2012 Olympics to look forward to [albeit with cynicism about spiralling costs now confirmed by what happened].

    I'm sure that in the mid 80s, post recession but with anticipation and a house price boom, there will have been higher levels of happiness than in the 70s, even though back in the 70s unemployment levels had yet to reach the levels seen in the 80s - because in the 70s there was a widespread feeling of crises and govt losing control [culminating in the winter of discontent] whereas in the 80s there was optimism - despite the miners strike.

    so people in march 2007 probably felt they were on an upward curve, whereas back in 2007 and particularly early in 2007 the political and sporting outlook was decidedly downbeat following previous failures...

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  • 25. At 10:19pm on 15 Sep 2010, davidm wrote:

    ps rember also that in 2007 there was little optimism that the Democrats could win the next US election, let alone the optimism for change in the state of the world that followed President Obama's election. Despite some of the initial gloss and optimism wearing off, a good part of the population probably do feel that we are closer to withdrawal from Iraq and from Afghanistan than we were, and folk feel we are less likely to be bombing or at war with Iran than if Bush/Blair were still in charge; in 2010 the London 7/7 2005 bombings are probably a good deal less in the public & media consciousness than in they were in March 2007 and despite the 2009 recession crime didnt appear to rise overall, as had been predicted.

    It is not just the things tht cause happiness such as life events [marriage, having babies] and economic good times that contribute to happiness, it is also the lack of things that prevent it [worries & uncertainty about the future, fears of crime, poor health or terrorism] and particularly those things which are out of our control

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  • 26. At 10:27pm on 15 Sep 2010, davidm wrote:

    in my earlier post i meant to say at the end

    so people in march 2010 probably felt they were on an upward curve, whereas back in 2007 and particularly early in 2007 the political and sporting outlook was decidedly downbeat following previous failures...

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  • 27. At 10:59pm on 15 Sep 2010, davidm wrote:

    pps one of the most revealing pieces of economic analysis of recent years was by Joseph Stiglitz, who looked at data for the US economy for the 80s and 90s when it was apparently booming - and he found that in fact most of the growth of income went to the very top earners whilst the 'average' person or household saw no increase in real wages, hence the disconnect between what the politicians were saying was happening in the economy and what the public thought and experienced. There was similarly little evidence of whether a 'trickle down' effect from the wealthy happened here in the UK, although there was undoubtedly much satisfaction in the middle classes and London-centric national media about rising house prices as well as a spate of tv programmes on buying property fantasies.

    In the latest recession, the biggest initial losers were the financial sector as well as many estate agents, and some bankers losing their huge bonuses for a while and having to grit their teeth and apoogise. We have even had MPs held to account and forced to apologise over expenses. There has also been a little bit less xenophobic rhetoric as people have seen Polish people go home and floods of Bulgarian & Romanians surprisingly didnt actually invade us after they joined the EU in january 2007. In 2007 house prices peaked and have fallen back to more realistic levels but have been treading water rather than falling for a while now. Interest rates are at record lows so those in a job with a mortgage have had greater disposable income not through wage increases but via lower mortgage payments. So some of the richer excesses of society have been brought to heel, the aspirations of the poor to buy property are more realistic [provided they can raise a deposit and have a job so can get a mortgage], and many people in work have more money even if they are being more cautious and using more of it to pay off those credit card debts. And the economy bounced back to growth much quicker than many people feared [remember some people predicted years of recession and debt overhang, as happened to Japan following banking meltdown there in the past] and unemployment hasnt risen as much as was predicted.

    so part of the happiness may be the total gdp figures not telling the story for the average person/household, and part may be the 'phew it could have been much worse and has turned out better than we expected' effect

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  • 28. At 11:38pm on 15 Sep 2010, crash wrote:

    IO bet the people who are now unemployed are happier,the people who have retirement funds i bet they are glad,where do you come up with this drivel.

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  • 29. At 03:02am on 16 Sep 2010, graham Barnes wrote:

    The credit crunch has made me really depressed, i have a minor form of epilepsy and the meds i take for it allready make me feel depressed but not getting a job or being able to travel long distances, undertaking some areas of work because of it is almost giving me no job, i go into the job centre every 2 weeks, the person i see is nice but last yr i had my dream job and because of the credit crunch i lost it.

    Im far from happy applying daily, im on this gov program where i have to search for 5 jobs every week even if i can't get to them i have to put them down its depressing for someone who can't drive due to their condition, public transport where i live is terrible too and i have good qualifications including a degree.

    I am not the happiest, i tried volunteering but am not getting anywhere with that :( my dad is severely ill and is retired and can't go and enjoy life due to his illness, i had to come home to my parents otherwise i would be in a larger problem. All I can do is hope, I think thats what all of us can do, but why should the banks give out bonuses as equal as a yrs pay when the banks got us into this mess, anyone heard of take responsibility for their actions. frustrates me because im limited to the jobs i can apply to due to my condition and i really want to work.

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  • 30. At 11:25am on 16 Sep 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    DibbySpot wrote:
    The idea that those with jobs will be treated with some fairness and those unemployed who could work will be forced to work is a cause for happiness. No longer will the employed be forced to fund the cigarette and booze filled lives of the unemployed who watch their huge LCD TVs in homes we are foced to pay for.

    That make me happy.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What a load of ....
    Take were I am in the Wirral we currently have for every 100 people of working age there are 40 jobs within the wirral, this then leaves communting to other areas which on a very small wage is almost impossable.I have already seen many people loose jobs and a lot more as this takes grip in our area.
    The only options soon in our area will be drugs and crime, which will flourish over the next few years especialy as the police are cut our local force have already said they will not be taking on the 200 or so officers over the next parliment that will leave the force through natural churn. let alone take on extra police.

    As for the tax payer supporting 'these people' with big tv's ect I think you will find that most people own such TV's as they are cheap so the retoric of unemployed with big tv's is realy showing its political age, infact i think its now faily hard not to replace CRT tv's with anything but a 40 inch flat screen as most of the time they are cheaper than the smaller flat screen tv's due to manufaturing costs.

    I do hope the current climate treats you and your family well. So you dont have to learn the hard way that most of sociaty has been taught to hate you because of your missfortunes in life.

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  • 31. At 11:28am on 16 Sep 2010, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    Bah Humbug!!!

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  • 32. At 11:56am on 16 Sep 2010, ellie wrote:

    What is there to be happy about.My husband got maid redundant,i got laid of from work due to ill health.We are now having to rely on job seekers which is not at all what we want. Our morgage gets some money paid by job seekers and we find the rest of the morgage payments per month through the money we get, but now ,Job seekers rejuced our money we get a fortnight so we get even less and thanks to the goverment the interset payments that job seekers pay are getting rejuced that much that we cannot afford to pay our morgage which means me and my husband and kids will be homeless by christmas.How can we survive this,what is there to be happy about.Through no falt of our own we have ended up in this situation and instead of the goverment helping they have just put the nails in our coffin.do not no where we go from here.when other countrys need help we are there with donations but when the problem is on the door step we get stepped over and ignored how is that fair and how does that make me and my family happy

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  • 33. At 1:05pm on 16 Sep 2010, diversejustice wrote:

    might want to bring this artical about next year. dam this government is determind to make a nation of misery

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  • 34. At 6:48pm on 16 Sep 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Graham Barnes,
    I know your situation seems dire but try to hang in there.Try to find a simple thing you enjoy everyday and put yourself on a schedule. Something involving movement like walking or biking. It helps a lot. I will pray that your situation improves and that you find happiness. You deserve happiness and it will come.

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  • 35. At 04:59am on 17 Sep 2010, nekton1922 wrote:

    18, 20, 23

    I was 33, overqualified and redundant when the last nasty Tory government was in power-I took the advice to "get on my bike" and emigrated. Never looked back. If you have a useful degree or sellable trade/skills in the world job market, look to employment overseas. It can't be worse than the dole and the tabloid rags' hate-laden rhetoric against unemployed people in the UK and could be a good enriching experience for you. The weather will be better too!

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  • 36. At 2:13pm on 17 Sep 2010, juliet50 wrote:

    I certainly feel more optimistic now than a few years ago and more confident in the current government. I have seen the huge amounts in my area wasted by the last labour government and the escalating sovereign debt and worried for the future of our children. Whilst we have less money as my hours were reduced last year we did not have large amounts of debt so we can manage financially and appreciate what we do have. The difference between the socio economic groups is interesting and shows that despite the scare mongering by the press and the unions( including the labour party)people are in general not unhappy about the present situation. So long as the sun is shining and we can put food on the table,a roof over our head and are healthy I am happy. I am sure there are many people uncertain though and I hope things pick up for them soon.

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  • 37. At 2:59pm on 18 Sep 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:

    The government says it wants to keep track of the happiness of the nation and today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its thoughts on the best way to measure our subjective well-being [422KB PDF].

    What a total load of crud nonsense.

    I do actually feel very optimistic......


    that next year there will be demonstrations, civil disobediance and violence in UK as a result of impending savage cuts to large chunks of the UK economy.

    Who is this government department actually asking to attain this political spin bile.

    I have never heard such drivel, apart from the last time a government department wanted to show a pretty picture.

    Maybe if we all had our legs chopped off and scrambled about on rubbish dumps for sustinance then presumably we would all be ever more grateful for just being alive. Maybe we could then have a national lottery with the top prize being a £20.00 ticket to see the Pope.

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  • 38. At 4:50pm on 18 Sep 2010, peevedoff wrote:

    Really!!!!!I tell you what.Do the same survey this time next year.

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  • 39. At 10:16pm on 21 Sep 2010, PaulRM wrote:

    I seem to recall a study showed that the public did not have a convincing grasp of the severity of the budget crisis. Thus far, there has been a lot of noise and fury, but no concrete evidence that would justify the earlier news media reporting that screamed "we're all going to die".

    With the passage of time and no crisis comes inurement, leading to a collective sigh of relief that the worst is surely over. The consequent lack of foreboding can be put down to a clever program of government propaganda that involves selecting suitable minorities (chief characteristic being that they do not have a collective voice with which to defend themselves) and blame them for all the countirs budgetary woes. Thus far benefit claimants and highly paid public service workers have been singled out for special attention. The intended affect of the message is - punish the fraudsters, cheats, and profiteers and all will be well - which of course carries the implied message that this label does not apply to "you", and therefore the squeeze will be only be felt by the "others". For "others", in the main, read socio economic class E - after all they are only poor and disenfranchised because they won't get off their backside and look for work.

    Instead , I would suggest we are currently in the lull before the storm that will start in October and take us God knows where. Then let us see where the "happiness" index ends up subsequently.

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