Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Personal Well being
Personal well-being provides an important insight into people’s thoughts and feelings about their quality of life. Its measurement forms part of a much wider initiative and internationally, to look beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to measure what really matters to people.
Previous research has shown the relationship between age and personal well-being to be U-shaped. That is, our sense of personal well-being is highest among younger people and older people and is lowest among people in their middle years. The following report builds on this, analysing responses from more than 300,000 individuals to further examine the relationship between age and personal well-being. Understanding more about how different age groups rate their personal well-being will help policy makers target groups in most need and concentrate on issues that are fundamental to a good life.
How people view their health was the most important factor related to personal well-being, followed by employment status and relationship status. This report analyses personal well-being data for over 300,000 adults and it finds that:
· those aged 65 to 79 tended to report the highest average levels of personal well-being ratings of life satisfaction and happiness were at their lowest, on average, for those aged 45 to 59
· well-being ratings fell amongst the oldest age groups (those aged 75 and over) - this fall was steepest for feelings that activities they do in life are worthwhile
· those aged 90 and over reported higher life satisfaction and happiness compared with people in their middle years
· average anxiety ratings increased through early and middle years, peaking between 45 to 59 years, but then subsequently falling and remaining relatively unchanged for those aged 65 and over
This shift towards an older population will impact on important policies and services including the labour market, pension provision, and health and social care demand. Understanding more about how the oldest age groups rate their personal well-being will help focus on issues that are fundamental to a good later life.
Average ratings of life satisfaction, a sense that what one does in life is worthwhile and happiness peak for those aged between 65 to 79 years, however scores for all 3 measures decline in later life. The extent of this decline in personal well-being ratings was largest for average feelings that what one does in life is worthwhile, where those aged 90 and above reported the lowest average worthwhile rating of all the age groups. This particular finding might have important implications for policy when considering provision of worthwhile building activities into care settings for the over 90s. Whilst ratings of life satisfaction and happiness also fall in later life, interestingly average ratings remain higher for those aged 90 and above compared with people in their middle years.
The fall in ratings of personal well-being amongst the oldest age groups might result from a range of personal circumstances such as poor health, living alone and feelings of loneliness. Self-reported health has one of the strongest associations with all the measures of personal well-being, with those reporting higher personal wellbeing tending to report better general health. As health problems generally develop with age, it is reasonable to expect that older people are less able to participate in activities as freely as they once were. The direction of the relationship between personal well-being and health could be either way. Therefore, it is possible that creating interventions directed at improving well-being could also lead to improvements in the population’s general health.
Previous evidence has found that those aged 80 and over were also twice as likely to report feelings of loneliness compared with younger age groups. What’s more, these feelings of loneliness were found to have a strong relationship with low personal well-being ratings.
Those who reported that their health or disability had a negative impact on their ability to work had lower levels of personal well-being than those who said it didn’t affect their ability to work. This suggests that it is when disability and ill health limit people’s activities that it affects well-being most.
Personal well-being is highest among younger and older adults and dips in middle age
Differences in personal well-being between men and women are small, but women report higher ‘life satisfaction’, ‘worthwhile’ and ’happy yesterday’ levels. Women also reported slightly higher levels of ’anxious yesterday’ than men