The well-being figures are the first to be based on a full year of data since the European Union referendum, during which the country has experienced high levels of political turmoil, including a snap election, a subsequent hung parliament, and the beginning of tense negotiations with Brussels.
Britain has also been hit by multiple terrorist attacks, beginning with the Westminster Bridge attack in London on March 22. Two months later on May 22, 22 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the Manchester Arena bombing, which became the deadliest attack on UK soil since 2005.
However, people have remained upbeat in spite of this, scoring (out of 10) 7.5 for happiness, 7.7 for life satisfaction, and 7.9 reported that they feel what they do in life is “worthwhile”. There was also no significant change in reported levels of anxiety, which scored 2.9 out of 10.
The ONS says that the improvement in happiness levels could be down to feelings of job security (employment levels are at a record high) as well as satisfaction over our own health, quality of our relationships, and our financial situation.
Interestingly, the improvements in happiness, life satisfaction, and worthwhileness were driven by England, with no changes in reported personal well-being in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Despite this, Northern Ireland continued to report the highest levels of well-being when compared with the UK average.
It’s widely predicted that the UK’s exit from the EU will negatively impact economic growth, which could compromise quality of life in the UK and Northern Ireland. However, in the early stages of the Brexit negotiations, this appears to be a small concern to the general population.
In fact, a March 2017 survey by Ipsos MORI found that 40% believed that Brexit would make no difference to their standard of living, an increase from 24% in October 2016. If anything, the population appears to be increasingly relaxed about the result of the Brexit vote as time passes.