Northern Ireland

Well-being survey: Northern Ireland 'tops table for happiness'

A line of people jumping
Image caption That "top of the mornin'" feeling peeks in Fermanagh and Omagh

Northern Ireland ranks as the happiest place in the United Kingdom, a new survey suggests.

But we are also the most anxious, the survey of more than 300,000 adults across the UK found.

That "top of the mornin' feeling" peaks in Fermanagh and Omagh, County Tyrone, according to the latest figures.

That is where life satisfaction and happiness soar and people are walking - metaphorically at least - on sunshine.

However, the personal well being survey from the Office for National Statistics, (ONS) suggests people in Northern Ireland also tend to worry.

They were among the most anxious in the UK.

People were questioned on four measures of well-being; happiness, life satisfaction, feeling life was worthwhile and anxiety.

Image caption Omagh, County Tyrone, where residents are said to be the happiest

Overall, the survey, for the year ending 2015, put Northern Ireland on the top rating for life satisfaction with an average score of 7.9 out of 10. It was the only place to be significantly higher than the UK average of 7.6.

The happiness score came out at 7.8 - again significantly higher than the UK average.

But anxiety was slightly below the national average for both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The people of Lisburn, Castlereagh and Belfast worry the most, the figures suggest.

On the positive side, when it comes to finding meaning in life, those living in Mid Ulster scored the highest when asked if they felt that the things they did were worthwhile.

Overall, the ONS said personal well-being had risen every year since 2011/12 when data was first collected, with the greatest improvement for levels of anxiety.

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Image caption People aged between 65 and 79 are the happiest, research suggests

Northern Ireland recorded higher average ratings for well-being for all measures except anxiety, which the ONS says has been the case for the past five years.

People in London reported lower personal well-being, on average, for each of the measures than the equivalent UK averages.

However, the report suggests that London has seen improvements across all the average measures of personal well-being, particularly in reductions to anxiety since data were first collected.

"Reported personal well-being has improved every year since financial year ending 2012 when data were first collected, suggesting that an increasing number of people in the UK are feeling positive about their lives," the report states.

Overall those aged 65 to 79 are the happiest, the research states.

Those aged 45 to 59 reported the lowest levels of life satisfaction, with men on average less satisfied than women.

That age group also reported the highest levels of anxiety.

Researchers said one possible reason for the lower happiness and well-being scores among this age group might be the burden of having to care for children and elderly parents at the same time.

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