UK Politics

Ten signs of happiness published by ONS

  • 1 November 2011
  • From the section UK Politics
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David and Samantha Cameron
The survey will ask people about their relationship with their husband or wife

People are to be asked how satisfied they are with their husband, wife or partner, under government plans to measure the country's happiness.

The Office for National Statistics has published a list of 10 indicators of wellbeing, including health, education, income, work and trust in politicians.

A three-month consultation will now begin before a final list is published.

David Cameron's "happiness index" is intended to complement other measures of the state of the UK such as GDP.

The list of national wellbeing indicators was drawn up following a five-month debate involving 34,000 people on the question "What matters to you?"

Statisticians narrowed that down to 10 areas, including seven relating to personal wellbeing and three wider indicators - governance, the economy and the environment.

Top of the list of measures in the ONS consultation document is individual happiness.

Among the questions likely to be asked are: "Do you feel your life is worthwhile? How satisfied are you with your husband, wife or partner?"

People would also be asked about job satisfaction and whether they feel they achieve a balance of work and leisure activities.

On neighbourhoods, people's involvement in their local area and sense of belonging, as well as feelings of personal safety, would be considered.

Other areas explored are people's financial situation and whether they are happy with their household income.

There would also be questions about education from an individual's own education to the importance of learning new things and satisfaction with the standard of the national education system.

More general areas included are what percentage of the population voted and how many trust Parliament, the state of the economy and the environment - the latter measured in part using greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants.

After the consultation exercise, which ends in January, statisticians will consider scrapping indicators from the shortlist or adding new ones. A summary of people's views will be published next spring.

The programme, launched a year ago, aims to provide a better understanding of how society is doing, and could help form coalition policy in the future.

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