Doing worthwhile things in life

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, when people in the UK were asked how worthwhile they felt the things they did in life were, the average score was 7.88 out of 10 (where 10 is 'completely')
  • average scores for feeling worthwhile ranged from 7.64 for the Chinese ethnic group to 7.97 for the Arab group
  • the average worthwhile scores for people in the Chinese, Mixed, Bangladeshi and Black ethnic groups were lower than the UK average
  • between 2012 and 2018, most ethnic groups saw an increase their average worthwhile scores
  • it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about the Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Mixed ethnic groups because of the wide variation in responses for these groups
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 ‘Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’ 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 worthwhile people felt the things they did in life were. 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, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?'

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

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

  • low levels of feeling the things they did were worthwhile (scoring 0 to 4)
  • medium levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 9 to 10)

Average worthwhile scores by ‘ethnicity and gender’ and ‘ethnicity and socio-economic group’ are 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 score for how worthwhile people felt the things they did in their life were, by ethnicity
Ethnicity
All 7.88
Bangladeshi 7.71
Chinese 7.64
Indian 7.92
Pakistani 7.81
Asian other 7.91
Black 7.77
Mixed 7.65
White 7.89
White Gypsy / Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Arab 7.97
Other 7.80

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, when people in the UK were asked how worthwhile they felt the things they did in life were, the average score was 7.88 out of 10 (where 10 is 'completely')
  • the average worthwhile scores for people in the Chinese (7.64), Mixed (7.65), Bangladeshi (7.71) and Black (7.77) 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 score for how worthwhile people felt the things they did in their life were, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All 7.70 7.73 7.80 7.84 7.85 7.88 7.88
Bangladeshi 7.44 7.62 7.76 7.79 7.65 7.74 7.71
Chinese 7.43 7.48 7.75 7.66 7.74 7.62 7.64
Indian 7.71 7.73 7.76 7.88 7.90 7.90 7.92
Pakistani 7.53 7.61 7.75 7.81 7.86 7.91 7.81
Asian other 7.56 7.62 7.78 7.71 7.82 7.82 7.91
Black 7.47 7.59 7.64 7.69 7.65 7.72 7.77
Mixed 7.46 7.67 7.52 7.69 7.72 7.69 7.65
White 7.72 7.74 7.81 7.85 7.86 7.89 7.89
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 withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Arab 7.19 7.33 7.48 7.77 7.75 7.67 7.97
Other 7.41 7.46 7.66 7.72 7.81 7.89 7.80

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2018, most ethnic groups saw an increase their average worthwhile scores
  • it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about the Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Mixed ethnic groups because of the wide variation in responses for these groups

4. By ethnicity (thresholds)

Percentage of people in each threshold (how worthwhile they felt the things they did in life were) by ethnicity
Ethnicity Low Medium High Very High
% % % %
All 3.71 12.14 48.16 36.00
Bangladeshi withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 16.71 51.14 29.75
Chinese withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 15.64 54.71 27.42
Indian 2.28 12.22 50.85 34.65
Pakistani 4.01 15.59 43.53 36.87
Asian other withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 13.79 47.86 36.03
Black 4.56 16.19 42.91 36.34
Mixed 6.23 14.66 46.06 33.06
White 3.71 14.19 48.32 36.16
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 13.98 41.46 41.26
Other 3.23 14.19 49.72 32.86

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

Summary

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

  • low levels of feeling the things they did were worthwhile (scoring 0 to 4)
  • medium levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 9 to 10)

This data shows that:

  • 36.00% of people in the UK had ‘very high’ worthwhile feelings about the things they did in their life
  • people in the Chinese (27.42%) and Bangladeshi (29.75%) ethnic groups were less likely than the UK average to have ‘very high’ worthwhile feelings
  • there were no other meaningful differences against the UK average in very high levels of worthwhile feelings

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

Percentage of people who had very high levels of feeling the things they did in their life were worthwhile, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
% % % % % % %
All 31.50 32.33 33.86 34.46 34.92 35.70 36.00
Bangladeshi 28.51 32.04 34.77 35.69 30.95 34.74 29.75
Chinese 22.62 20.42 26.22 27.70 26.04 24.26 27.42
Indian 31.64 30.70 31.40 33.92 33.83 34.43 34.65
Pakistani 30.95 30.77 34.37 34.48 35.88 37.90 36.87
Asian other 29.58 32.27 33.77 30.71 33.87 34.13 36.03
Black 30.08 31.84 33.26 33.46 33.37 35.44 36.34
Mixed 27.34 35.63 29.10 31.84 32.02 30.37 33.06
White 31.73 32.51 34.08 34.63 35.15 35.89 36.16
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 27.40 27.20 24.99 36.85 33.55 32.62 41.26
Other 27.18 28.80 31.19 31.48 32.94 35.49 32.86

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2018, the percentage of people in the UK with ‘very high’ worthwhile feelings went up from 31.50% to 36.00%
  • there were increases in the percentages of people with ‘very high’ worthwhile feelings in the Arab (27.40% to 41.26%), Black (30.08% to 36.34%), White (31.73% to 36.16%) and Chinese (22.62% to 27.42%) ethnic groups
  • although there are other apparent changes in the percentages of people with ‘very high’ worthwhile feelings, it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about these results because of the wide variation in responses for these groups

6. Methodology

This data presents the results from the question, ‘Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’

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 eudemonic approach, which measures people’s:

  • feelings of meaning and purpose in life
  • connections with their family and friends
  • sense of control
  • feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves

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

  • low levels of people feeling the things they did were worthwhile (scoring 0 to 4)
  • medium levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 5 to 6)
  • high levels of feeling worthwhile (scoring 7 to 8)
  • very high levels of feeling worthwhile (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 percentages of people with varying levels of feeling worthwhile. But it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentages.

For example, it’s 95% certain that between 35.65% and 36.35% of all respondents had a ‘very high’ worthwhile score 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 35.65% and 36.35%. 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 32.72% and 49.79% of Arab people had a ‘very high’ worthwhile score 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.

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

Worthwhile data - Spreadsheet (csv) 23 KB

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