Well-being: Life satisfaction
- 1. Main facts and figures
- 2. Life satisfaction by ethnicity
- 3. Life satisfaction over time by ethnicity
- 4. Life satisfaction thresholds by ethnicity
- 5. Life satisfaction by ethnicity and gender
- 6. Life satisfaction by ethnicity and socio-economic group
- 7. Methodology
- 8. Data sources
- 9. Download the data
1. Main facts and figures
- overall, when people in the UK were asked how satisfied they were with their lives on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is ‘not at all satisfied’, and 10 is ‘completely satisfied’), the average score in 2017 was 7.69
- ethnic groups in the UK shared broadly the same levels of overall life satisfaction – average responses ranged from 7.24 for the Black group to 7.80 for the Indian group
- between 2012 and 2017, most ethnic groups experienced increasing levels of overall life satisfaction; it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about the increase in satisfaction for the Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Other Asian ethnicities because of the wide variation in responses for these groups
- in 2017, people from the Pakistani ethnic group were more likely than the UK average to report very high levels of overall satisfaction with their lives, with 34.75% doing so
- in the same year, people from the Chinese, Mixed, Arab, and Black ethnic groups were less likely than the UK average to report very high levels of overall satisfaction with their lives: 21.76, 22.47%, 23.84%, and 25.18% did so respectively
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.
- Other Asian Background
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
- Gypsy/Traveller/Irish Traveller
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
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).
2. Life satisfaction by ethnicity
|White Gypsy/Traveller||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
3. Life satisfaction over time by ethnicity
|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|
4. Life satisfaction thresholds by ethnicity
|Ethnicity||Very High (9-10)||High (7-8)||Medium (5-6)||Low (0-4)|
|Arab||23.84||51.55||19.45||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Bangladeshi||31.35||42.29||20.89||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Chinese||21.76||64.31||11.52||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Asian other||31.30||47.65||18.14||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|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|
5. Life satisfaction by ethnicity and gender
|White Gypsy/Traveller||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
6. Life satisfaction 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|
|Arab||7.68||7.63||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||7.17||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||7.24||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||7.52|
|Chinese||7.69||7.49||7.44||7.72||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||7.35||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||7.78|
|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|
This data presents the results from the question, ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’
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 people aged 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 150,000 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.
The ‘evaluative’ approach asks individuals to step back and reflect on their lives and make a cognitive assessment of how their lives are going overall, or how certain aspects of their lives are going. ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’ is the evaluative question included in the APS.
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:
- low satisfaction (scoring 0 to 4)
- medium satisfaction (scoring 5 to 6)
- high satisfaction (scoring 7 to 8)
- very high satisfaction (scoring 9 to 10)
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 a reliable estimate of the percentage of people aged 16+ with very high life satisfaction, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.
It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 29.79% and 30.45% of all people aged 16+ in the UK reported very high life satisfaction 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 Arab 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 17.95% and 29.73% of Arab people aged 16+ reported very high life satisfaction 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 results for the Pakistani ethnic group, which had a confidence interval of between 31.50% and 37.99% for very high life satisfaction, and the UK average, which had a confidence interval of between 29.79% and 30.45%.
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
Estimates of mean scores have been rounded to 2 decimal places. Estimates of percentages within thresholds have been rounded to 1 decimal place.
Sample sizes have been rounded to the nearest 10, following Government Statistical Service guidance.
Comparisons have been based on unrounded data.
Further technical information
8. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Office for National Statistics
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
9. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, gender, NS-SEC (socio-economic group), income, value, denominator, confidence intervals