Month: February 2017

Trust, wellbeing and measuring inequality

At our Annual Lecture in London on 6 March the Centre will be launching a new report looking at measuring wellbeing inequalities across Britain. Speaking at the lecture is Professor John Helliwell, a leading happiness economist and proponent of wellbeing inequalities. Here he sets out why wellbeing inequality can help us focus resources and see a more complete picture than other measures alone. Inequality in wellbeing and its impact on our lives is an area of policy that doesn’t get much air time in the UK. Although the idea of looking beyond income alone as a measure of local and national progress has taken root, there is still a way to go until we look at social justice through a wellbeing lens. This is a missed opportunity, as it can provide a broader and more appropriate measure than than income inequality alone. Why is inequality in wellbeing important? Focussing on averages can hide important underlying variation within and between population groups, places or regions. Differences in wellbeing show the gap between those who feel their lives are progressing well and those who feel they are languishing. They can show differences between groups, e.g. between females and males; those in and out of work; between areas. They can also show differences in wellbeing within a certain group. For example, within a local authority what are the factors that define those who...

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Retirement and wellbeing: what works?

Following our international systematic review, and in light of the government’s paper, Fuller Working Lives, published earlier this month, we look at what it means for people’s wellbeing to retire.   Download the retirement and wellbeing briefing.   If you think retirement is an automatic ticket to a happier life, our new briefing might give you pause for thought. The systematic review looked at the global evidence base of mental health and wellbeing in the UK and similar countries. The way we retire matters for our mental health and wellbeing. And it affects us differently depending on who we are, what type of job we are leaving, and whether we have a choice in our retirement plan. A key finding for employers is that ‘bridging jobs’ could make retirement happier. Suggesting companies should consider supporting older workers to ‘wind-down’ into retirement with the choice of bridging jobs or reduced working hours. But the most important factor is control over retirement timing. Being forced to retire due to restructuring or ill health is negative for mental health and wellbeing. Those who take up bridging jobs because of financial strain showed lower wellbeing. Having a support network was also an important factor. One fascinating study in the review looked at the retirement transition and adjustment process. It found certain patterns in terms of psychological wellbeing (PWB), these were: Maintaining pattern: individuals cope...

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Understanding happiness: ways to measure wellbeing

As well as the national headline measures of personal wellbeing, new methods of understanding ‘how we are doing’ are being used and studied. Here is a spotlight on the some recent findings.  We are exploring more of these methods in our measuring wellbeing series. Measuring happiness from the words we use A recent study by The Centre for Competitive Advantage at Warwick University and the think tank the Social Market Foundation looked used the emotion words in over eight million books to map happiness over 200 years in six countries. They found that tracking the words used gave very similar findings to more traditional measures of wellbeing.   As you might expect, war, civil conflict and economic collapse is very bad for our wellbeing and increase life expectancy and decreased child mortality increases happiness. They concluded we were happiest in 1957. This might come as a surprise to many people of colour, the LGBT community and other minorities who lived during the 50s; obviously, what is published in books is not the whole story. We can see the impact on our happiness of more recent national events from the Office for National Statistics data here in the UK.  Grounds for an autumn bank holiday perhaps? Taking the pulse of the public mood online Other teams are now looking at how the words we use online tell us about population level...

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