NEWS25 July 2011

Health, relationships and work determine wellbeing, finds ONS

Government UK

UK— Health, relationships, work and the environment are all factors determining national wellbeing, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which today reported back on the outcome of its five-month consultation.

The findings, contained in the report ‘Measuring what matters’, will be used to design a set of indicators “to measure how society is doing, to complement GDP and other measures of economic growth,” says National Statistician Jil Matheson (pictured).

Since November the ONS has amassed more than 34,000 responses through questionnaires, a dedicated website and events around the country.

Despite the scale of the response, Matheson stressed that the consultation “was not a statistical excercise, and so the findings are not necessarily representative of the UK population as a whole”.

However, she said, “The debate has helped us identify the key areas that matter most and will help to ensure that the measures we use will be relevant not only to government but also to the wider public.”

Wellbeing is already being measured subjectively through four questions on the Integrated Household Survey, with the first data due to be published in July next year. The new set of wellbeing indicators are expected in October.

The ONS was tasked with developing measures of national wellbeing at the request of the Prime Mininister, David Cameron, who said: “Taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country’s progress.”

  • In related news, the United Nations general assembly last week adopted a non-binding resolution to make happiness a “development indicator”. The resolution was promoted by Bhutan, whose former king coined the term Gross National Happiness in 1972.