NEW 5 years of personal wellbeing data from ONS

Since 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has asked personal wellbeing questions to adults in the UK, to better understand how they feel about their lives.

Today they have released the fifth annual Personal Well-being dataset, as part of the Measuring National Well-being programme. Accompanying this is a report which presents headline results (local authority breakdowns will be published in early autumn 2016) for the year ending March 2016, together with how things have changed over the five years of collecting this information.

It finds that:

  • reported personal well-being has improved across each of the measures over the 5 year period between the years ending March 2012 and 2016
  • there has been no improvement in ratings of happiness, anxiety and feeling that things in life are worthwhile over the 1 year period between the years ending March 2015 and 2016
  • those living in London reported lower average ratings of life satisfaction, anxiety and feeling things in life are worthwhile compared with UK overall
  • people in Northern Ireland continue to give higher average ratings of personal well-being for all measures except anxiety, when compared with the other UK countries
  • although women reported higher life satisfaction and worthwhile levels when compared with men, they also reported higher levels of anxietyWell-being-01 (1)

Personal well-being in the UK: 2015 to 2016

→Have your say: ONS would value feedback on how this information is shared:

Usually, we release our annual dataset in September. However, this year, for the first time, we have brought this forward to July. We have also given our reference tables a new look, and the statistical bulletin is written in a new style that is more concise than previous years. We are really interested to know what you think of this.

→Please get in touch and give us your feedback at qualityoflife@ons.gov.uk

Aligning Public Policy with the Way People Want to Live – The New Zealand Treasury’s Living Standards Framework

Wellbeing is being embraced by policy makers around the world and this week we welcome colleagues from New Zealand’s Treasury to discuss their Living Standards Framework.

New Zealand Treasury’s vision is to achieve higher living standards for its residents, using a much wider set of measures than just income to define wellbeing. Here, Joey Au and Girol Karacaoglu set out the Living Standards Framework:


 

GirolKGirol Karacaoglu, Chief Economist     Joey Au,Senior AdvisorJoey Au - NZ Treasury  

 New Zealand Treasury

The ultimate purpose of public policy is to improve people’s lives, now and into the future. 

We do not know how each and every individual wishes to live his/her life, nor do we wish to pass judgement on how they should be living their lives.OECDBLI

We can however rely on the robust findings of numerous studies, covering a large variety of countries and cultures, about the broader domains of individual wellbeing.

For example, OECD’s Better Life Initiative (BLI) [OECD (2013)] focuses on domains classified under quality of life and material conditions (Figure 1).

 

The Treasury’s Living Standards Framework (LSF) follows the lead of Atkinson (2015), Gough (2015), Phelps (2013), Sen (2009), and others, in emphasising that public policy can improve people’s lives now and into the future by enhancing the capabilities and opportunities, as well as incentives, of individuals to pursue the lives they have reason to value. It provides a guide for thinking about good economic, environmental and social policies in an integrated way and is illustrated in Figure 2.

NZTreasury LSF

Good public policy focuses on ensuring that the wellbeing-generating capacity of capital assets (human, social, natural and economic capital) is sustained or enhanced – that is: not eroded by current generations at the expense of future generations (sustainability);shared in a manner consistent with sustaining or enhancing the capital base (equity); no particular social group(s) impose their concepts of wellbeing on others, respecting others’ rights to live the kinds of lives they have reason to value (social cohesion); capital assets are protected against major systemic risks (resilience); and the material wellbeing generating potential of these assets (“comprehensive wealth”) is enhanced (raising potential economic growth).

These five dimensions of the LSF define the boundaries of society’s wellbeing frontier, and are therefore of legitimate interest for a public policy that aims to push out these boundaries, while also being cognisant of their interdependencies.

Treasury’s stylised LSF model, while drawing on the work of Arrow et al (2012), is intended to serve as a policy-guiding tool. It weaves together threads from the wellbeing, human needs, sustainable development, endogenous economic growth, and directed technical change (favouring “clean” technology) literatures [Karacaoglu (2015)].

The model suggests that a time-consistent policy package needs to be strongly grounded in the history, cultures and values of the society it is intended for. Universal access to basic income, and to health services, housing and education, provides the necessary platform. A set of economic, social and environmental infrastructures (including strong institutions) act as enablers, but also provide the incentives to participate productively in economic and social life.

In practice, to design effective and efficient public policies, we need to know which aspects of living standards are most important to people, and be able to assess the trade-offs they are willing to accept. Au et al (2015) demonstrate an application of the survey-based methodology we are increasingly using to make these assessments. Au and Karacaoglu (2015) provide a summary of the applications of the LSF in the Treasury’s policy advice.

→ NZ Treasury Living Standards Framework

 

How the latest personal wellbeing dataset can improve policy making

Recently the Office for National Statistics published its latest estimates of personal wellbeing and a three-year analysis of wellbeing by age .

Guest post from ONS Personal Wellbeing measurement team- Links updated 

How can this new dataset can help you in your policy making and evaluation?

Where do these new estimates of personal wellbeing come from? These figures were based on responses from over 300,000 adults in the UK to the ONS four personal wellbeing questions. The responses were collected over a three-year period between 2012 and 2015 from the Annual Population Survey.

What are the benefits of this dataset over the annual one?

Case study one: How do people rate their Personal Wellbeing in your area?lifesat

There is a clear need among the policy-making community for robust estimates of personal wellbeing at a low level of geography. The three-year dataset enables a higher level of precision than is possible from annual datasets. ONS provide reference tables for personal wellbeing ratings broken down by over 10 geographical splits including health and wellbeing boards and local enterprise partnerships .

→To explore the data and find out what personal wellbeing is like broken down by Local Authority District

Case study two: At what age is Personal Wellbeing the highest? The three-year dataset also lends itself to much more detailed sub-group analysis than is possible from the annual release. Up to now, analysis had tended to group together those aged 75 and over. However, the size of this dataset allowed us to look at personal wellbeing ratings in much more detail, including a study of those aged 90 and over

ONS age wb

→How can I get hold of this dataset? The 3 year dataset is available to Government Statistical Service users through contacting the following email address: socialsurveys@ons.gov.uk. The dataset can also be accessed under special licence through the UK Data Service

→Further questions? email: Personal.well-being@ons.gsi.gov.uk

ONS Wellbeing dataset and personal Wellbeing data releases

Earlier this year ONS released analysis combining the first three years of UK personal wellbeing statistics.

The Personal Well-being dataset  makes it easy to see how one Local Authority area in the UK  compares with another.

Interactive maps were also released at the same time which provide another interesting and straightforward way to explore the findings for different areas.

Local Authority District (LAD) level maps (static and interative)  happyONSshowing results from the 4 subjective wellbeing questions

This powerful 3 year dataset also enables us to look more closely at the well-being of many specific groups, such as disabled people, minority ethnic groups, people who report an affiliation to different religions, and people who rate their health as good or poor.

For those with a particular interest in health, the data is available for Health and Wellbeing Boards areas and Clinical Commissioning Groups as well.

For economists and those interested in local economic development, the data can also be analysed for Local Enterprise Partnership areas as well as for local authorities.

→Excel tables with figures for a range of sub-groups and geographical areas

To help meet policy needs for regularly updated statistics on personal wellbeing, ONS will continue to publish the annual personal well-being statistics, analysis and dataset each September. Every year, a dataset combining the previous 3 years of results will also be published to enable more a more detailed look at what’s happening to the well-being of different groups and in different areas of the UK.

Two newly released publications on personal well-being from ONS:

Using the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey to look at community wellbeing, social trust and relationships to personal wellbeing measures

Investigation into how to get comparable estimates of life satisfaction from surveys using different life satisfaction measures.

Screenshot 2015-06-25 10.18.50 Taking a wider view on personal wellbeing the European Social Survey  has also published their results on Europeans’ personal and social wellbeing

Economic wellbeing

As the World Economic Forum is holding its Annual Meeeting in Switzerland this week we look at economics and wellbeing.

There is a growing movement which argues that you should measure a country’s progress by more than GDP. The Office for National Statistics, as part of Measuring What Matters recently published economic wellbeing data  alongside the standard economic data for Q3 2014.wellbeing900_tcm77-390268

This is the first time that these figures have been released together to present a more rounded way of assessing economic wellbeing

Our Pioneer Case study examines the work of a Career Connect, a  charity supporting  adults’ and young peoples’ resilience as they move into education or the workplace.

→ be one of our wellbeing pioneers

Videos from our launch events 29th October – Part 2 Bristol

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing was announced by our interim Chair Lord Gus O’Donnell on 29th October 2014 at twoKnowleWestMediaCentre events, in London and Bristol. Here are the video of the speakers from the Bristol part of the day with sessions from:

  • Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson
  • Lord Gus O’Donnell Chair of the What Works Centre’s Development Group
  • Ed Humpherson from UK Statistics Authority
  • Liz Zeidler from Happy City Bristol
  • Dr Shona Arora Centre Director of the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Public Health England Centre
  • Q&A from the audience at Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol

Also published to coincide with the announcement of the What Works for Wellbeing Centre on 29th October was a new dataset from ONS combining the first three years of national personal wellbeing data to enable a more robust local level analysis and the ESRC specifications for the Centre’s evidence programme.

→what can I do?

Today we have also added a new pioneer case study to the site:

Our pioneers are short case studies of real projects, real places, real people and their evaluations.

→ be one of our pioneers

Welcome and Bristol context Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson 

Wellbeing – the new currency of impact Lord Gus O’Donnell

Measuring What Matters Ed Humpherson  

Happy City – What has worked in Bristol? Liz Zeidler 

Wellbeing and local public health Dr Shona Arora

Q&A with the speakers

What Works Centre for Wellbeing announced today

Lord Gus OGus‘Donnell has announced that a new ‘What Works Centre for Wellbeing’ is being set up to bring together evidence about what works to improve wellbeing and to put that evidence into the hands of those that need it to make decisions.

The establishment of an independent What Works Centre for Wellbeing builds on the ONS Measuring National Wellbeing Programme and the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy. The Centre joins a network of independent What Works Centres that are responsible for distilling and sharing the evidence to support decision making.

The Centre is a collaboration and has initial funding of over £3.5million over three years, in-kind resourcing and the support of a broad group of founding partners.  Today’s announcement is in partnership with BT, Happy City and Bristol City Council.

Also published today are:

Why What Workswhat works network logo

The What Works Initiative is based on the principle that good decision-making should be informed by the best available evidence on what works and what does not. It aims to improve public services for people and communities by ensuring that resources are focused on those things which will have the greatest positive impact.

What Works Centres are fundamentally different from standard research centres. They aim to directly support policy makers, commissioners and local practitioners by providing reliable, accessible products which communicate the likely impact of real policy initiatives, and building professional capacity to use evidence effectively.

There are now nine Independent What Works Centres, including one in Scotland and one in Wales, supported by a combination of ESRC, Government, and charitable funding.

Why Wellbeing

Fundamentally, wellbeing is about quality of life and creating the conditions for people to live better lives. The Centre will bring together the best available evidence of the practical action that can be taken to increase wellbeing.

Locally

Wellbeing is an increasing part of policy and practice across a range of sectors and is important to the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Northern Ireland Executive, as well as major funders and commissioners such as the BIG Lottery Fund and local authorities including Health and Wellbeing boards. Employers are focusing on wellbeing in the workplace and its links to productivity and engagement. There is a growing interest in the social return on investment, with evaluation, innovation and collaboration fundamental to making the most of scare resources.

This rapidly developing field has many pioneering leaders and practitioners keen to connect up, share their work, learn from others, build the evidence base and bringing together the fragmented project and pilot evaluations into a meaningful, reliable, easy to navigate source. A strong credible evidence base can support those in the wellbeing field to be able to make their case for change, support bids and business cases and focus their efforts for the biggest impact.

Nationally

The UK is regarded as one of the leading countries on wellbeing. In November 2010, David Cameron launched the Measuring National Wellbeing Programme undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Following a national debate asking people across the UK what matters most to them, ONS developed a measurement framework for wellbeing comprising 10 domains including personal wellbeing. Personal wellbeing data is now available for every local authority area across the UK.

Internationally

The OECD, WHO, the UN and the European Commission are all significantly engaged in wellbeing. A central focus of this international interest is on how societies, governments, communities and populations measure their progress, economic and social, recognising the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress.

About What Works Centres

What Works Centre is independent of government with a clear and relevant policy and delivery focus. The functions of a Centre are to:

  • Undertake systematic assessment of relevant evidence and produce a sound, accurate, clear and actionable synthesis of the global evidence base which:
    • Assesses and ranks interventions on the basis of effectiveness and cost effectiveness
    • Shows applicability
    • Shows the relative cost of interventions
    • Shows the strength of evidence on an agreed scale
  • Put the needs and interests of users and stakeholders at the heart of shaping a workplan
  • Advise those commissioning and undertaking innovative interventions and research projects to ensure that their work can be evaluated effectively
  • Publish and disseminate findings in a format that can be understood, interpreted and acted upon
  • To help produce a common currency for comparing the effectiveness of interventions
  • Identify research and capability gaps and work with partners to fill them

What next

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is being set up by a development group of the founding partners, chaired by Lord Gus O’Donnell. The centre will be an independent body and a Chair, Board and staff for the centre will be recruited. The ESRC will commission the Centre’s evidence programmes and Public Health England are hosting the development team for the Centre until it is established.

→ what can I do?