From the TUC

ONS show just how hard ‘well-being’ is hit by low incomes and wealth

04 Sep 2015, by in Economics

The ONS report ‘Relationship between Wealth, Income and Personal Well-being, July 2011 to June 2012’ may not be hugely surprising , but vividly shows the how dependent personal well-being is on a decent standard of living.

For the ONS, well being has four aspects, ‘life satisfaction’, ‘sense of worth’, ‘happiness’ and ‘anxiety’.

The following charts show the relationship between well-being and income, by household income decile. Plainly all aspects of well being are to some extent a function of income, ‘sense of worth’ most strikingly negative for those on low incomes against positive and not greatly different outcomes for all other income groups. (From a technical point of view, ONS have the relations between income and ‘life satisfaction’ and ‘happiness’ significant in the statistical sense, i.e. stronger and less likely to have occurred just by chance.)



The next charts show the relation between well-being and wealth. Here the results are utterly clear- cut. ‘Life satisfaction’, ‘sense of worth’ and ‘happiness’ are greatly reduced for those on lower wealth; ‘anxiety’ is greatly increased. (All four aspects are significant in the statistical sense.)


This is not earth-shattering stuff, but it is a measure of the damage to individuals and likely their families caused by low income and hardship. As policy gears up to take an even harder line with the most vulnerable, this damage is likely only to intensify.

2 Responses to ONS show just how hard ‘well-being’ is hit by low incomes and wealth

  1. Paul Bivand
    Sep 4th 2015, 11:58 am

    May be worth adding that the key aspect of wealth that links most strongly is ‘net financial wealth’

    Commentators often muddy the water by including pension wealth and housing wealth, which are much less strongly linked to happiness etc.

  2. It's less about money buying happiness, but more about the unhappiness without it
    Sep 8th 2015, 5:57 pm

    […] well-being analysis issued on Friday. But thinking more about the results that were covered briefly here on Friday, these headlines might draw the wrong conclusion.  There is a very strong association […]