British people are happier now than last year, says report

UK ranked 10th happiest out of 27 European countries

British people have become happier in the last year, according to official figures.

The percentage of people reporting higher levels of satisfaction with their lives, believing that their actions are worthwhile, and feeling happier, all increased in the 12 months to March 2013 according to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Annual Population Survey.

The proportion of people rating their life satisfaction as seven or more out of 10 rose from 75.9% to 77% between 2011/12 and 2012/13. There was also a reduction in the proportion of people reporting feeling anxious, according to the results published on 30 July.

Events including the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games may have “potentially influenced people’s assessment of their personal wellbeing in this period,” according to the report.

Women were found to have higher life satisfaction, consider their activities to be more worthwhile and rated their happiness as being slightly higher than men, while young adults and pensioners felt happiest. Respondents were asked to give their answers on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 was ‘not at all’ and 10 was ‘completely’.

The UK ranked tenth for life satisfaction out of 27 European Union countries when ONS figures from 2007-2011 were compared with other nations’ data in the European Quality of Life survey.

The ONS said the UK’s rating was unchanged between 2007 and 2011, showing a “picture of stability” in contrast to the marked decline in happiness experienced by residents of many other EU countries.

Denmark remained the happiest place in Europe, with Bulgaria and Hungary the unhappiest.