Life satisfaction

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, the average life satisfaction score for people in the UK was 7.70 out of 10 (where 0 is 'not at all satisfied')
  • average life satisfaction scores ranged from 7.32 for the Black ethnic group to 7.79 for the Indian group
  • there was a wide variation in responses in the Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Pakistani ethnic groups, so it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about their scores
  • 33.16% of people from the Arab ethnic group reported very high levels of satisfaction in 2018 (the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups)
  • people from the Arab ethnic group were the most likely out of all groups to have very high levels of satisfaction (at 33.16%)
  • people from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to have very high levels of satisfaction (at 24.20%)
  • between 2012 and 2018, the average life satisfaction score for people in the UK went up from 7.45 to 7.70 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 satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’ 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, results are not included in the commentary.

What the data measures

The data measures people’s satisfaction with their lives, 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 'how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?'

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

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

  • 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)

Average life satisfaction 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 life satisfaction score by ethnicity
Ethnicity
All 7.70
Bangladeshi 7.53
Chinese 7.60
Indian 7.79
Pakistani 7.67
Asian other 7.78
Black 7.32
Mixed 7.35
White 7.72
White Gypsy / Traveller withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable
Arab 7.61
Other 7.54

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, the average life satisfaction score for people in the UK was 7.70 out of 10 (where 0 is 'not at all satisfied')
  • the average scores for the Indian (7.79) and Other Asian (7.78) ethnic groups were higher than the UK average
  • the average scores for the Black (7.32), Mixed (7.35), Bangladeshi (7.53) and Other (7.54) 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 life satisfaction score by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
All 7.45 7.49 7.58 7.65 7.67 7.69 7.70
Bangladeshi 7.25 7.36 7.59 7.60 7.50 7.51 7.53
Chinese 7.44 7.50 7.55 7.58 7.69 7.68 7.60
Indian 7.54 7.47 7.68 7.74 7.81 7.80 7.79
Pakistani 7.28 7.37 7.47 7.64 7.68 7.73 7.67
Asian other 7.42 7.50 7.56 7.61 7.64 7.69 7.78
Black 6.79 6.97 7.13 7.18 7.22 7.24 7.32
Mixed 7.10 7.35 7.10 7.39 7.42 7.42 7.35
White 7.48 7.52 7.60 7.67 7.69 7.71 7.72
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 7.08 7.26 7.31 7.51 7.63 7.39 7.61
Other 7.13 7.36 7.50 7.48 7.64 7.59 7.54

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, the average life satisfaction score for people in the UK went up from 7.45 to 7.70 out of 10 (where 10 is ‘completely satisfied’)
  • every ethnic group had a higher average life satisfaction score in 2018 compared with 2012, but not all the increases were reliable
  • there was a wide variation in responses in the Arab, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Pakistani ethnic groups, so it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about their scores
  • people from the Arab and Black ethnic groups had the greatest increase in life satisfaction (both increasing by 0.53)
  • people from the Chinese ethnic group had the smallest increase in life satisfaction (0.16)

4. By ethnicity (thresholds)

Percentage of people in each life satisfaction threshold by ethnicity
Ethnicity Low Medium High Very High
% % % %
All 4.41 13.40 51.43 30.46
Bangladeshi withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 18.99 48.30 28.22
Chinese withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 16.02 57.44 24.20
Indian 3.27 14.22 50.57 31.94
Pakistani 4.97 16.00 46.33 32.70
Asian other withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable 15.19 50.81 31.38
Black 6.38 23.06 43.38 27.17
Mixed 7.09 16.03 52.35 24.53
White 4.35 12.87 52.13 30.66
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 15.52 43.88 33.16
Other 4.30 15.96 53.52 26.22

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

Summary

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

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

This data shows that:

  • 30.46% of people in the UK had ‘very high satisfaction’ with their lives, and 51.43% had ‘high satisfaction’
  • 13.40% of people had ‘medium satisfaction’ and 4.41% had ‘low satisfaction’
  • people from the Arab (33.16%) and Pakistani (32.70%) ethnic groups were more likely than the UK average to have very high levels of satisfaction
  • people from the Chinese (24.20%) and Mixed (24.53%) ethnic groups were less likely than the UK average to have very high levels of satisfaction

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

Percentage of people in the ‘very high’ life satisfaction threshold, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
% % % % % % %
All 26.17 26.73 28.24 29.13 29.63 30.13 30.46
Bangladeshi 27.50 26.23 30.88 32.98 30.54 31.37 28.22
Chinese 16.78 15.40 19.02 23.44 25.61 21.78 24.20
Indian 28.76 26.57 30.38 28.76 32.94 31.59 31.94
Pakistani 27.45 29.72 29.44 30.99 34.20 34.73 32.70
Asian other 26.93 28.17 28.95 28.36 28.18 31.31 31.38
Black 18.86 21.15 22.65 24.49 24.46 25.19 27.17
Mixed 18.76 24.90 22.19 23.97 20.66 22.54 24.53
White 26.47 26.96 28.48 29.38 29.79 30.35 30.66
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 22.39 22.32 24.04 26.53 33.04 23.82 33.16
Other 21.43 25.67 25.32 26.63 27.29 27.99 26.22

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

Summary

This data shows that:

  • between 2012 and 2018, the percentage of people in the UK with 'very high' life satisfaction went up from 26.17% to 30.46%
  • the biggest increases in 'very high' life satisfaction were in the Arab ethnic group (from 22.39% to 33.16%) and the Black group (from 18.86% to 27.17%)

6. Methodology

This data presents the results from the question, ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’

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.

In the evaluative approach, respondents make a cognitive assessment of how certain aspects of their lives are going.

Thresholds show the percentage 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)

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 life satisfaction. But it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.

It’s 95% certain that between 30.12% and 30.80% of people in the UK reported very high life satisfaction 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 30.12% and 30.80%. 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 25.47% and 40.86% of Arab people in the UK reported very high life satisfaction in 2018.)

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 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

life_satisfaction data - Spreadsheet (csv) 29 KB

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