Personal Wellbeing: Domain Overview

Domain Overview: Personal (or subjective) wellbeing concerns peoples’ self-reported assessment of their own wellbeing, for example, by asking about their life satisfaction, happiness, and psychological wellbeing.

Since 2011, the Office for National Statistics has asked personal wellbeing questions to adults in the UK, to better understand how they feel about their lives.  An individual’s thoughts and feelings about their own quality of life is an important aspect of wellbeing – both personal and national. How satisfied people are with their lives, their levels of happiness and anxiety, and whether or not they think the things they do are worthwhile all have strong links with many elements of well-being, for example, people’s health, employment and relationships.

The four Personal Wellbeing questions are:

  • overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  • overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  • overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?

People are asked to respond on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”. ONS produce estimates of the average (mean) ratings for all four personal well-being questions, as well as their distributions, using the thresholds below (Low/Very Low, Medium, High/Very High).


Personal Wellbeing Charts Latest findings

The charts above show that personal wellbeing in Northern Ireland has improved since data were first collected.   The charts also show that, in general, there are significantly higher proportions of respondents reporting very high levels of life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness than in the UK overall.  In recent years there has also been a marked distinction in terms of anxiety, with latest figures indicating a greater proportion of NI respondents indicating very low levels of anxiety than was the case in the UK overall.

  • Life Satisfaction (2017)36.3% of NI respondents reported very high levels of life satisfaction (a score of 9 or 10) compared with 30.1% in the UK overall
  • Worthwhile (2017)42.1% of NI respondents reported very high levels in terms of the feeling that the things they do in life are worthwhile compared with 35.7% in the UK overall
  • Happiness (2017)40.6% of NI respondents reported very high levels of happiness compared with 35.1% in the UK overall
  • Anxiety (2017)46.5% of NI respondents reported very low levels of anxiety (a score of 0 or 1) compared with 40.2% in the UK overall

The Personal Wellbeing domain also includes the following measure:

  • Population mental wellbeing

The population mental wellbeing score is based on the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (7 item scale). Each question is given a score between 1 and 5 with the final result measured out of 35, a higher score indicating more positive mental wellbeing. At 25.6 in 2015/16 the average score for respondents in Northern Ireland was slightly higher than the UK average (25.2).

Mental Wellbeing chart Mental Wellbeing in Northern Ireland is also measured through the Health Survey for Northern Ireland.  This survey uses a 14 item version of the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and is based on a sample of approximately 4,000 respondents.  The latest Mental Wellbeing results can be found in the 2016/17 survey report.  Further details are available at the Health Survey Northern Ireland page.

Do you want to know more? – Office for National Statistics Wellbeing

10 National Wellbeing Domains

Personal wellbeing          Our relationships           Health           What we do

             Where we live          Personal finance          The economy

Education and skills          Governance          The natural environment

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