Apparently, we’re a bunch of miserable old gits. Or rather middle-aged miseries! That’s what the findings of a new happiness survey has found anyway. If you’re aged from 45-59, congratulations, you’re or rather we’re the unhappiest in the UK. So move over, Victor Meldrew, apparently, your age group is the happiest.
The Office of National Statistics analysed personal well-being data collated from 300,000 adults in the UK from 2012-2015 to come up with its series of ‘happiness’ statistics. It found ratings of life satisfaction and happiness were at their lowest, on average, for those aged 45 to 59. That’s us! But we don’t look that unhappy, do we?
From a personal, point of view, I’m having the time of my life. My kids are older and don’t need the intense input when they were younger, I love being involved in their clubs from running the bar at my son’s sailing club to being a part of my daughters’ ice skating synchro committee and attending their competitions. My partner and I have recently bought a house together which felt like home the day we moved in. My job is amazing as I spend most of my time interviewing people and writing a wide variety of articles, even though as a freelancer sometimes money can be tight. We have a great social life and we have some fantastic times away, even though last year’s lack of funds due to our move meant our usual city break took place in York rather than the likes of Berlin, Vienna, Dublin and Madrid, where we have visited in the past.
So why does the data suggest we’re so unhappy?
Average anxiety ratings increased through early and middle years, peaking between 45 to 59 years, the data revealed. Even those aged 90 and over were happier than us, in fact, this age group reported higher life satisfaction and happiness compared with people in their middle years.
We do have a quite a bit to be worried about from paying the mortgage to keeping our jobs, fretting about how our old age will be funded, on-going access to the NHS, working into our 70s and an uncertain future for our kids including university fees and a tougher job market. Although, perhaps the alcohol helps.
The study asks if our happiness cycle is naturally U-shaped; at its highest in our younger and older years and dipping in our mid-40s to 50s. There are a number of factors which could affect our outlook including generational influences and changing socio-economic factors, for example, mortgages will have been paid off by the age of 60-65 and the kids (hopefully) will be well and truly off our hands and (hopefully) are doing alright for themselves and, dare we say it, possibly even very well.
On the upside, at least for the majority of my friends here in the south east, we live in the region where people are the happiest in the UK.
As part of the same survey, respondents were asked to rate the places they lived from 0-10; the national average for happiness based on your address is 7.38. The south east rated its region the highest with a happiness rating of 7.45, compared to the lowest of 7.29 for those living in the north east.
In the south east region itself, Hart in Hampshire is the happiest place scoring 8.03: it was also rated as the most desirable place to live for the fifth year in a row, according to the list compiled by the Halifax.
Hart was followed by the New Forest (7.75), Winchester (7.72), South Bucks (7.67) and the Chilterns (7.66), last in the south east’s list was Slough (7.13). And for my friend who has just moved from South Bucks to Lincolnshire, unfortunately, she can expect her happiness rating to drop; the area came in with a score of 7.45.
Looking at the whole of the UK, Liverpool (pictured right) is bottom of the list scoring an average of just 6.96; a finding which surprises me. My daughter is studying in Liverpool and loves everything the city and the university has to offer from clubs to shopping, although if you’re living in a rundown area with few job prospects, your view would be very different.
The happiest place to live is Eilean Siar (8.08) in the Outer Hebrides. According to its local council’s website, community is what makes the place tick, which is home to some 26,000 people. It is followed by the Orkney Islands (8.05) and Hart is in third place.
The happiest people were also rated by religion and marital status. Hindus rated their happiness highest whilst the most miserable are the divorced and separated with single people only rating just above. Widowed people or surviving partners are happier than either the divorced, separated or single although married couples and those in a civil partnership are happiest.
Thus, if you are a married Hindu, aged 65-79 and living in Eilean Siar, you are quite possibly the happiest person or, indeed, people in the country.
Unlike us miserable sods!