life in the uk

How do you feel today?

The ONS has published a study it calls ‘Life in the UK 2015’ – a study of national well being. It says it provides a snapshot of life in the UK today, and uses 10 areas to measure the state of the nation including our health, how we use our time, our finances and our relationships.

It is the relationships part of the survey that caught our eye. According to the statistics, on average, adults aged 18 and over in the UK scored their satisfaction with family life as 8.2 out of 10 and 7.1 out of 10 for satisfaction with their social life.

Family life or social life – can you have both?

A higher proportion of people aged 18 and over (53.3%) rated their satisfaction with family life as very high (rating of 9 or 10 out of 10), compared to their satisfaction with social life (29.7%).

But those aged 18 to 24 and 65 and over reported the highest average rating with their social life at 8.0 and 7.6 out of 10 respectively.

It seems to suggest that those with the highest family life ratings have lower social lives – can that be right?!

Who do you rely on the most – family or friends?

The survey also looks at the relationships we have with family and friends. It says that family and friends are important because of the support they can provide, either in times of need or on a more regular basis. Over 8 in 10 (86.7%) adults aged 16 and over had a spouse, family member or friend to rely on a lot if they had a serious problem in the financial year ending 2011.

People reported being able to rely a lot on their partner (83.3%) and on their family (62.4%), but less than half of people (44.8%) felt they could also rely a lot on their friends.

A previous report published by the ONS in 2014, ‘Exploring the Well-being of Young People in the UK’, showed that 82% of 16 to 24 year olds had someone to rely on a lot, less than the proportion of all other age groups. They say that the difference may be accounted for by the higher levels of marriage and partnerships in older age groups.

Children’s relationships with family

The ONS has also surveyed the specific well being of children. In their report, ‘Exploring the Well-being of Children in the UK’ they cited that “children tend to have higher levels of well-being when they have good social relationships with family and friends…” The report also stated that children who reported relatively high satisfaction with life overall also reported better communication patterns with their parents.

For the period surveyed (2011/12), nearly 70% of children aged 10 to 15 who reported being relatively satisfied with their life overall quarrelled less than once a week with both parents. This compares with just over 40% of children who reported being relatively unsatisfied quarrelling more than once a week with both parents.

The findings showed that children who were relatively unsatisfied with life overall were almost twice as likely to quarrel with both parents more than once a week as children who were relatively satisfied with life overall (24% compared with 13% respectively).

Also, children who reported being relatively satisfied with life overall were around 2 and a half times more likely to talk to both of their parents about things that matter more than once a week than children who reported being relatively unsatisfied with life overall. The ONS found that the link between parents and children’s well-being is strong, and persists after children leave home.

An easy to use interactive ‘wheel of measures’ shows the findings for all the different measures of ‘Life in the UK’ here.

U.K. OK?

The study has been running since 2010, so throughout the current Parliament. Across the board and measures of ‘Life in the UK’, the survey shows that overall 74% of measures had improved or shown no overall change in the short term, while only 5% had deteriorated.

It will perhaps be interesting to follow the study over the next 5 years to see whether there is any significant change in the statistics for life in the UK after the General Election.