Well-being: anxiety yesterday

The main facts and figures show that:

  • overall, when people in the UK were asked how anxious they felt yesterday on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is ‘not at all anxious’, and 10 is ‘completely anxious’), the average score in 2017 was 2.91
  • people from the Arab ethnic group had a higher score than the UK average for anxiety, at 3.37 out of 10
  • average anxiety scores out of 10 ranged from 2.78 for the Other Asian group (the lowest score) to 3.37 for the Arab group (the highest score)
  • between 2012 and 2017, there were decreasing levels of anxiety for all ethnic groups apart from the Chinese and Arab ethnic groups
  • in 2017, the Other Asian ethnic group had a lower percentage of people than the UK average reporting high levels of anxiety (17.2%)
  • the Arab and Chinese ethnic groups had lower percentages of people than the UK average reporting very low levels of anxiety (32.8% and 34.4%)
Things you need to know

This analysis is based on the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS is a ‘sample survey’. It collects information from a random sample of the population to make generalisations (reach 'findings') about the total population.

The commentary for this data only includes reliable, or ‘statistically significant’, findings.

Findings are statistically significant when we can be confident that they can be repeated, and are reflective of the total population rather than just the survey sample.

Differences are statistically significant if the results for the 2 groups or time periods being compared are within entirely different ranges.

Variance:

Respondents answered the question ‘Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?’ on a scale of 0 to 10. Where the average result for an ethnic group is based on a small range of answers (for example, respondents scored between 6 and 8 out of 10) we can be fairly confident about that survey estimate.

However, when the average result is based on a wide variation in answers (for example, respondents scored between 4 and 9 out of 10) we can be much less certain of the reliability of the survey estimate.

Where no commentary has been supplied for trends or differences apparently visible in the charts and tables, it’s because this wide variation (known as ‘variance’) makes them unreliable.

Comparisons have been based on unrounded data. Personal well-being questions can only be answered in person (not on behalf of the respondent).

What the data measures

The data measures people’s recent experience of anxiety.

The information comes from the Office for National Statistics (ONS’s) Annual Population Survey. Since 2011, this survey has asked people aged 16 and over questions about their personal well-being.

This data presents the results from the question 'overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?'

People were asked to respond on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘not at all’, and 10 is ‘completely’.

The data compares the average (mean) overall anxiety levels of ethnic groups. It also looks at ‘thresholds’ of anxiety within ethnic groups, measuring the percentage of people in each group who experienced:

  • very low anxiety (scoring 0 to 1)
  • low anxiety (scoring 2 to 3)
  • medium anxiety (scoring 4 to 5)
  • high anxiety (scoring 6 to 10)

There are 3 other well-being questions asked as part of the survey. You can see data on people’s happiness, life satisfaction, and feeling their activities are worthwhile on this website.

The ethnic categories used in this data

In England, the Annual Population Survey (APS) uses the 18 specific ethnic group categories of the Office of National Statistics 2011 Census. However, the censuses in Scotland and Northern Ireland use different, broader categorisations. The ethnic categories listed here are therefore the greatest detail available for APS data at UK level.

  • Arab
  • Asian
    • Bangladeshi
    • Chinese
    • Indian
    • Pakistani
    • Other Asian Background
  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
  • Gypsy/Traveller/Irish Traveller
  • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
  • White
  • Other

There are some differences in the ethnic categories the Annual Population Survey uses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Data has been harmonised for this analysis using the list above, in line with ONS Census guidance (PDF).

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Anxiety yesterday by ethnicity

Average anxiety score by ethnicity

Ethnicity Average score
All 2.91
Arab 3.37
Bangladeshi 3.03
Chinese 3.09
Indian 3.01
Pakistani 2.91
Asian other 2.78
Black 3.06
Mixed 3.17
White 2.89
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other 3.07

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017, the UK average score for anxiety was 2.91 out of 10, where 0 is ‘not at all anxious’, and 10 is ‘completely anxious’

  • average anxiety scores were higher than the UK average for people from the Arab ethnic group, with an average score for this group of 3.37

  • the other ethnic groups reported broadly average scores for anxiety

Anxiety yesterday by ethnicity over time

Average anxiety score by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
All 3.03 2.95 2.89 2.85 2.89 2.91
Arab 3.26 3.57 3.24 3.55 3.47 3.37
Bangladeshi 3.22 2.92 2.74 3.04 2.97 3.03
Chinese 3.04 2.87 3.00 2.73 2.72 3.09
Indian 3.21 3.07 2.93 2.97 2.91 3.01
Pakistani 3.27 3.14 3.07 2.81 2.99 2.91
Asian other 3.19 3.28 2.92 2.98 2.92 2.78
Black 3.18 3.14 2.94 2.78 2.88 3.06
Mixed 3.48 2.86 3.22 3.29 3.14 3.17
White 3.01 2.93 2.87 2.84 2.88 2.89
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other 3.45 3.28 3.00 2.86 2.93 3.07

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2017, the UK average score for anxiety decreased from 3.03 to 2.91 out of 10, where 0 is ‘not at all anxious’, and 10 is ‘completely anxious’
  • in the same period, people from the Indian, White, and Other ethnic groups experienced decreasing levels of anxiety; it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about the differences in anxiety scores for the other ethnic groups because of the wide variation in responses for these groups
  • the White group experienced the smallest decrease in anxiety – on average, they scored 3.01 in 2012 and 2.89 in 2017, a decrease of 0.12

Anxiety thresholds by ethnicity

Percentage of people in each anxiety threshold by ethnicity

Ethnicity Very Low (0-1) Low (2-3) Medium (4-5) High (6-10)
All 40.20 23.06 16.64 20.09
Bangladeshi 37.25 23.08 20.45 19.22
Chinese 34.41 24.96 19.64 20.99
Indian 36.79 23.41 20.74 19.06
Pakistani 42.73 18.10 19.21 19.96
Asian other 40.84 23.91 18.09 17.17
Black 38.60 21.05 19.42 20.93
Mixed other 36.58 22.32 17.07 24.03
White 40.48 23.15 16.32 20.04
Other 36.61 24.75 17.47 21.17
Arab 32.84 24.62 18.36 24.17
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

Where 0 is ‘not at all anxious’, and 10 is ‘completely anxious’, ‘thresholds’ of anxiety within ethnic groups measure the percentage of people in each group experiencing:

  • very low anxiety (scoring 0 to 1)
  • low anxiety (scoring 2 to 3)
  • medium anxiety (scoring 4 to 5)
  • high anxiety (scoring 6 to 10)

This data shows that:

  • in the UK, on average, 40.2% of people said they experienced ‘very low anxiety’, 23.06% experienced ‘low anxiety’, 16.64% experienced ‘medium anxiety’ and 20.09% experienced ‘high anxiety’
  • in 2017, the Other Asian ethnic group had a lower percentage of people than the UK average reporting high levels of anxiety (17.7%)
  • the Arab and Chinese ethnic groups had lower percentages of people than the UK average saying they had ‘very low’ levels of anxiety (at 32.9% and 34.4% respectively)

‘Very low’ levels of anxiety, by ethnicity over time

Percentage of people in the ‘very low’ anxiety threshold, by ethnicity over time

Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
All 38.1 39.2 40.5 41.0 40.3 40.2
Bangladeshi 35.2 40.2 42.6 39.1 39.4 37.3
Chinese 32.9 32.7 35.0 38.8 38.3 34.4
Indian 34.3 34.8 37.8 38.2 38.9 36.8
Pakistani 36.1 38.6 39.0 41.4 36.7 42.7
Asian other 34.9 35.3 39.4 37.5 39.2 40.8
Black 35.4 38.1 41.0 42.0 40.8 38.6
Mixed other 32.2 42.1 34.2 32.3 35.0 36.6
White 38.5 39.5 40.7 41.2 40.5 40.5
Other 30.2 33.6 37.6 39.2 39.1 36.6
Arab 34.7 28.5 30.3 30.5 33.8 32.8
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of people reporting ‘very low’ anxiety increased by more than 2 percentage points overall, from 38.1% in 2012 to 40.2% in 2017
  • in the same period, the percentage of people reporting ‘very low’ anxiety increased for White people (from 38.5% to 40.5%), Black people (from 35.4% to 38.6%) and people from the Other ethnic group (from 30.2% to 36.6%)
  • although the chart shows variation in the percentage of adults in other ethnic groups reporting very low levels of anxiety, there were no meaningful differences because of the wide variation in responses for these groups

Anxiety by ethnicity and socio-economic group

Average anxiety score by ethnicity and socio-economic group

Ethnicity Higher managerial and professional Lower managerial and professional Intermediate occupations Small employers and own account workers Lower supervisory and technical Semi-routine occupations Routine occupations Never worked, unemployed, and nec
All 2.81 2.84 2.81 2.73 2.64 2.82 2.75 3.03
Arab 3.25 3.58 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 3.39
Bangladeshi 2.98 3.21 3.15 2.65 2.36 3.13 2.86 2.84
Chinese 2.77 3.10 3.05 2.43 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2.74 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 2.62
Indian 3.03 2.91 2.73 2.85 3.08 3.17 2.84 2.86
Pakistani 2.49 2.92 2.70 3.14 3.21 3.13 3.00 3.04
Asian other 3.27 2.89 2.57 3.16 2.92 2.83 3.00 2.91
Black 2.90 2.70 2.78 2.71 2.81 2.96 2.63 2.92
Mixed 2.92 3.08 3.30 3.50 2.95 2.96 2.96 3.62
White 2.78 2.84 2.80 2.71 2.61 2.80 2.75 3.04
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other 3.00 2.97 2.96 2.91 2.58 2.59 2.66 3.20

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • there were no meaningful differences between ethnic groups in the anxiety experienced by people in different socio-economic groups
  • although the table shows differences between groups for anxiety, sample sizes were too small to draw reliable conclusions about these results

Anxiety by ethnicity and gender

Average anxiety score by ethnicity and gender

Ethnicity Female Male
All 3.01 2.70
Arab 3.26 3.41
Bangladeshi 2.90 2.93
Chinese 2.68 2.78
Indian 3.04 2.84
Pakistani 3.05 2.89
Asian other 3.03 2.86
Black 2.86 2.79
Mixed 3.33 3.07
White 3.02 2.67
White Gypsy/Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Other 2.98 2.91

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2017, White women had a higher average anxiety score than White men, at 3.01 and 2.70 respectively (out of 10)
  • there were no meaningful differences in anxiety scores between men and women in other ethnic groups, because of the wide variation in responses for these groups

Methodology

Methodology

This data presents the results from the question, ‘Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?’

People were asked to respond on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘not at all’, and 10 is ‘completely’. Estimates were produced as mean ratings, as well as thresholds.

Personal well-being questions are asked to adults age 16 and over, living in private households. Personal well-being questions can only be answered in person (they cannot be answered by proxy).

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is a continuous household survey. Most people are interviewed face to face at first contact, and by telephone at subsequent contacts. The sample is formed partly from waves 1 and 5 of the Labour Force Survey (in which selected addresses are contacted every 3 months) and partly from boost cases, which are in the sample for 4 waves, spread one year apart.

The sampling frame is mainly the Royal Mail Postcode Address File (PAF). The NHS communal accommodation list is also used and (in the case of remote parts of Scotland) telephone directories. All eligible individuals found at the selected address may be interviewed. The complex survey design has been taken into account when calculating confidence intervals.

The achieved sample of approximately 158,000 respondents undergoes weighting, which is structured at local authority level and uses age and sex dimensions. The Office for National Statistics population estimates and projections are used as the basis for this weighting process.

Results derived from a low number of survey responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed differences may not reflect actual difference. As such, caution is needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for sub groups (for example, a particular ethnic group).

Smaller numbers of survey respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds and smaller geographic regions mean that these estimates are less reliable than estimates for White people and larger regions.

Measuring well-being requires a number of different approaches to capture a range of factors which contribute to an individual's overall sense of well-being. The APS uses a number of specific approaches, including the evaluative, eudemonic, experience and individual well-being approaches.

This measure involves the ‘experience approach’, which seeks to measure people’s positive and negative experiences (or affect) over a short timeframe to capture their subjective well-being on a day-to-day basis. The question “Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?” is a negative affect question, in contrast to the positive affect question “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?”.

Thresholds are used in the report to present dispersion in the data. These show the proportion of responses that fall into 4 groups on a scale of 0 to 10:

  • very low anxiety (scoring 0 to 1)
  • low anxiety (scoring 2 to 3)
  • medium anxiety (scoring 4 to 5)
  • high anxiety (scoring 6 to 10)

Confidence intervals:

Confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available if you download the data.

The Annual Population Survey is based on a sample of people aged 16 and over across the UK. This measure makes reliable estimates of, for example, the percentage of people aged 16+ with low levels of anxiety, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 22.8% and 23.4% of all people aged 16+ in the UK reported low levels of anxiety in 2017. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall between the upper and lower bounds of the confidence interval. But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.

The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, fewer people aged 16+ from the Chinese ethnic group responded to the survey than White people aged 16+ , so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty is expressed by a wider confidence interval, for example of between 20.0% and 29.9% for Chinese people aged 16+ in 2017.

All the differences noted in the text are statistically significant. The statistical significance of differences are approximate because they are determined where the 95% confidence intervals for 2 groups or time periods don't overlap.

An example of non-overlapping confidence intervals would be the 2017 results for very low-level anxiety in the Indian ethnic group, which had a confidence interval of between 34.3% and 39.3%, and the UK average, which had a confidence interval of between 39.8% and 40.6%.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Estimates are suppressed if:

  • the sample size is less than 50

  • the degree of variability of responses (coefficient of variation) is greater than 20%

  • the threshold numerator is based on a small number, as defined by the Government Statistical Service (GSS) quality and suppression guidance

Rounding

Estimates of mean scores have been rounded to 2 decimal places. Estimates of percentages within thresholds have been rounded to 2 decimal places.

Sample sizes have been rounded to the nearest 10, following Government Statistical Service guidance.

Comparisons have been based on unrounded data.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Labour force survey user guidance

Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Office for National Statistics collects well-being data to:

  • monitor national well-being
  • develop government policy making
  • make comparisons between the UK and other countries
  • give individuals data they can use to make informed decisions

Download the data

Anxiety yesterday - Spreadsheet (csv) 94 KB

This file contains: Measure, Year, Ethnicity, Sex, NS-SEC, Threshold, Mean, Percentage, Upper Confidence Interval, Lower Confidence Interval, Sample Size