Happiness

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, when people in the UK were asked how happy they felt yesterday, the average score was 7.54 out of 10 (where 10 is 'completely happy')
  • average happiness scores ranged from 7.18 for the Arab ethnic group to 7.77 for the Other Asian group
  • the average happiness scores for people from the Other Asian, Indian and Bangladeshi ethnic groups were higher than the UK average
  • the average happiness scores for people from the Arab and Mixed ethnic groups were lower than the UK average
  • 38.81% of people from the Other Asian ethnic group and 38.69% from the Indian group reported very high levels of happiness in 2018 (the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups)
  • between 2012 and 2018, the average happiness score for people in the UK went up from 7.31 to 7.54 out of 10
  • every ethnic group had a higher average life satisfaction score in 2018 compared with 2012, but not all the increases were reliable
Things you need to know

The data for this analysis comes from the Annual Population Survey (APS). The APS surveys a random sample of people to make generalisations about the whole population.

The commentary for this data only includes reliable (or 'statistically significant’) findings. Findings are reliable when we can be confident they reflect the total population.

Comparisons are based on unrounded data.

Variance:

People answered the question ‘How happy did you feel yesterday?’ on a scale of 0 to 10. We can be more confident about an ethnic group's average score if there wasn't much variation in people's answers. (For example, if everyone answered between 6 and 8.)

We can be less certain about an ethnic group's average score if it's based on a wide variation in answers. (For example, if people answered between 4 and 9.) In these cases, the estimates are not included in the commentary.

What the data measures

The data measures how happy people felt recently. The data is broken down by ethnicity.

The information comes from the Annual Population Survey. The survey is open to people aged 16 and over.

This data shows the results from the question 'overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?'

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

The data compares the average happiness levels of ethnic groups. It also shows the percentage of people in each group who experienced:

  • low levels of happiness (scoring 0 to 4)
  • medium levels of happiness (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high levels of happiness (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high levels of happiness (scoring 9 to 10)

Average happiness by ‘ethnicity and gender’ and ‘ethnicity and socio-economic group’ is only available every 3 years. Please see the previous version of this page for this information.

The ethnic categories used in this data

In England, the Annual Population Survey (APS) uses the 18 ethnic groups from the 2011 Census. But the censuses in Scotland and Northern Ireland use different ethnic groups.

The ethnic groups used here are therefore the greatest detail available for APS data for the UK:

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

2. By ethnicity

Average happiness score by ethnicity
Ethnicity
All 7.54
Bangladeshi 7.64
Chinese 7.53
Indian 7.67
Pakistani 7.57
Asian other 7.77
Black 7.52
Mixed 7.32
White 7.54
White Gypsy / Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Arab 7.18
Other 7.56

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, when people were asked how happy they felt yesterday on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 10 is 'completely happy'), the average score was 7.54
  • the average happiness scores for people from the Other Asian (7.77), Indian (7.67) and Bangladeshi (7.64) ethnic groups were higher than the UK average
  • the average scores for people from the Arab (7.18) and Mixed (7.32) ethnic groups were lower than the UK average
  • all other ethnic groups had similar average scores to the UK average

3. By ethnicity over time

Average happiness score by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All 7.31 7.37 7.44 7.48 7.49 7.53 7.54
Bangladeshi 7.30 7.56 7.57 7.44 7.57 7.50 7.64
Chinese 7.41 7.51 7.51 7.59 7.54 7.33 7.53
Indian 7.49 7.54 7.59 7.69 7.75 7.80 7.67
Pakistani 7.16 7.18 7.39 7.53 7.50 7.51 7.57
Asian other 7.37 7.43 7.50 7.53 7.61 7.73 7.77
Black 7.03 7.16 7.33 7.31 7.36 7.34 7.52
Mixed 7.03 7.24 6.99 7.21 7.37 7.21 7.32
White 7.32 7.38 7.45 7.48 7.49 7.53 7.54
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
Arab 6.88 6.94 7.15 7.18 7.41 7.13 7.18
Other 7.09 7.19 7.43 7.43 7.62 7.56 7.56

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • people in the UK were happier in 2018 than in 2012, with the average happiness score going up from 7.31 to 7.54 out of 10 (where 10 is ‘completely happy’)
  • people in the Pakistani, White, Other Asian and Black ethnic groups had higher average happiness scores in 2018 than in 2012
  • there was a wide variation in responses within all other ethnic groups, so it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about any apparent increases in happiness

4. By ethnicity (thresholds)

Percentage of people in each happiness threshold, by ethnicity
Ethnicity Low Medium High Very High
% % % %
All 8.08 15.99 40.86 35.06
Bangladeshi withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18.91 37.15 37.37
Chinese withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18.80 47.08 28.93
Indian 7.39 15.00 38.92 38.69
Pakistani 8.48 16.69 36.89 37.94
Asian other 6.77 13.67 40.75 38.81
Black 8.43 18.40 35.70 37.47
Mixed 10.26 17.72 40.53 31.49
White 8.09 15.88 41.13 34.90
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
Arab withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18.95 36.45 31.56
Other 6.98 16.12 43.00 33.90

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (thresholds)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (thresholds)’ (CSV)

Summary

Happiness 'thresholds' show the percentage of people in each ethnic group experiencing:

  • low happiness (scoring 0 to 4 out of 10)
  • medium happiness (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high happiness (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high happiness (scoring 9 to 10)

This data shows that:

  • 35.06% of people in the UK had ‘very high happiness’, and 40.86% had ‘high happiness’
  • 15.99% of people had ‘medium happiness’ and 8.08% had ‘low happiness’
  • people in the Other Asian (38.81%) and Indian (38.69%) ethnic groups were more likely than the UK average to have very high levels of happiness
  • there were no other meaningful differences against the UK average in very high levels of happiness

5. By ethnicity over time (‘very high’ happiness)

Percentage of people in the ‘very high’ happiness threshold, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
% % % % % % %
All 31.49 32.29 33.72 34.24 34.58 35.11 35.06
Bangladeshi 33.43 35.06 37.86 34.25 37.26 37.52 37.37
Chinese 27.25 29.43 34.10 33.51 30.68 27.89 28.93
Indian 35.74 32.68 34.90 35.80 38.58 38.52 38.69
Pakistani 30.68 32.08 34.38 36.04 35.67 36.92 37.94
Asian other 31.49 34.64 31.44 34.03 34.29 37.35 38.81
Black 29.36 32.36 33.02 32.53 34.43 33.73 37.47
Mixed 24.73 31.93 28.66 28.80 30.77 26.87 31.49
White 31.59 32.32 33.80 34.32 34.53 35.16 34.90
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
Arab 23.73 23.28 26.29 31.87 33.47 27.11 31.56
Other 28.56 30.41 32.39 32.80 34.02 36.92 33.90

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time (‘very high’ happiness)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time (‘very high’ happiness)’ (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2018, the percentage of people in the UK with ‘very high’ levels of happiness went up from 31.49% to 35.06%
  • there were increases in ‘very high’ levels of happiness in the Other Asian (31.49% to 38.81%), Black (29.36% to 37.47%) and White (31.59% to 34.90%) ethnic groups
  • there was a wide variation in responses within all other ethnic groups, so it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about any apparent increases in ‘very high’ levels of happiness

6. Methodology

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

People responded on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘not at all’, and 10 is ‘completely’. Estimates show average ratings for each ethnic group, as well as thresholds.

The Annual Population Survey is a continuous household survey. Most people complete a survey in person first, and later by telephone.

Respondents are people aged 16 and over who are living in private households.

The sample is formed from:

  • waves 1 and 5 of the Labour Force Survey (in which selected addresses are contacted every 3 months)
  • boost cases that are in the sample for 4 waves, spread one year apart

Participants are randomly selected from:

  • the Royal Mail postcode address file
  • the NHS communal accommodation list
  • telephone directories (only in remote parts of Scotland)

All eligible individuals found at the selected address may be interviewed.

Use caution when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for small groups. There is often a smaller number of respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds. This means their estimates can be less reliable than those for White people. They are also more likely to be affected by statistical variation.

There are different ways to measure someone's well-being. The APS includes evaluative, eudemonic, experience and individual wellbeing approaches.

This data involves the ‘experience approach’. This approach aims to measure people’s positive and negative experiences or mood over a short period of time. The question “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?” is a ‘positive affect’ question.

Thresholds show the percentage of responses that fall into 4 groups on a scale of 0 to 10:

  • low levels of happiness (scoring 0 to 4)
  • medium levels of happiness (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high levels of happiness (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high levels of happiness (scoring 9 to 10)

Weighting:

The sample of around 150,000 respondents is weighted so that estimates are representative of the target population. Weighting is at local authority level and uses age and sex dimensions.

Each respondent has a 'weight', which signifies the number of people they 'represent' in the general population.

Weighting is updated whenever new population estimates become available.

Confidence intervals:

Download the data for confidence intervals for each ethnic group.

This page makes a reliable estimate of the percentage of people with very high levels of happiness. But it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It is 95% certain that somewhere between 40.51% and 41.22% of all respondents reported a high level of happiness in 2018. 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 40.51% and 41.22%. 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, there were fewer respondents from the Arab ethnic group. As a result, there’s more uncertainty about their estimates, and a wider confidence interval. (It’s 95% certain that between 29.33% and 43.57% of Arab in the UK reported high levels of happiness in 2018.)

All the differences noted in the text are statistically significant. The statistical significance of differences are determined where the 95% confidence intervals for two groups or time periods don't overlap. For example, the difference between the Black ethnic group and the UK average in high levels of happiness was significant. The Black ethnic group had a confidence interval of 34.94% to 39.36%, and the confidence interval for the UK average was 40.02% to 40.71%.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Estimates are not shown if:

  • they are based on fewer than 50 respondents
  • the degree of variability of responses ('coefficient of variation') is greater than 20%
  • the threshold numerator is based on a small number

Rounding

Average scores are rounded to 2 decimal places. Estimates of percentages within thresholds are also rounded to 2 decimal places.

Sample sizes are rounded to the nearest 10.

Comparisons are based on unrounded data.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

Labour force survey user guidance.

7. 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
  • support government policy making
  • give individuals data they can use to make informed decisions
  • make comparisons between the UK and other countries

8. Download the data

Happiness data - Spreadsheet (csv) 23 KB

measure, year, ethnicity, sex, threshold, mean, value, confidence intervals (upper bound, lower bound), sample size