Britons Most Miserable at Middle Age

Published July 12th, 2018 - 05:00 GMT
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)

Paying off your mortgage, raising kids, caring for elderly parents... middle age can certainly be a challenge.

And now a national happiness survey has revealed that 45 to 59-year-olds are in fact the most miserable and least fulfilled people in the country.

Those who are young, well-educated and married have the best chance of happiness, the official study revealed yesterday.

Students and those in early retirement are most likely to be content, so long as they enjoy good health, it showed.

And married people are twice as likely to have low anxiety levels than anyone who is single, divorced or separated, the breakdown from the Office for National Statistics found. Its report on factors that cause misery said: ‘Personal well-being tends to be lowest among those in middle age.

‘For example, about half of those reporting the poorest personal well-being – 51.7 per cent – were aged 40 to 59 years, compared with 32.9 per cent of those reporting higher well-being.’

There are, the ONS said, an estimated 500,000 people who are at the bottom of the scale for every measure of well-being in the survey.

The report said they usually have one or more characteristics including poor health, being middle-aged, being single, renting rather than owning a home, and basic education.

Those people rate their happiness, satisfaction and life worth at less than four out of ten, and anxiety level at more than six out of ten. The most important element of happiness, the report said, is health.

Someone who says their health is bad is almost 14 times more likely to be in the unhappiest group than someone with good health.

Unemployed people, and those who live on long-term sickness benefits are three times more likely to be among the unhappiest than students, who carry the greatest chance of good well-being. The report, based on surveys carried out from 2014 to 2016, found having a job or being retired or self-employed means you are only slightly less likely to be happy than students.

And those who work without pay for a family business and depend on its profits are four times more likely than students to be in the unhappiest group.

Silvia Manclossi of the ONS said: ‘There are inequalities in our society beyond the purely economic ones. For the first time we have identified some of the factors common to half a million people in the UK with the lowest level of personal well-being.

‘Improving how people feel about their lives is important for the health of our society in so many ways, not least the social and economic implications.’

The wellbeing survey was introduced by David Cameron in 2011 to discover details about people’s thinking and behaviour that are not covered in traditional economic statistics. Broadly, people give themselves scores of between seven and eight for happiness measures, and around three for anxiety.

Results have consistently shown that middle-aged people are more likely to be unhappy than those in their twenties or their sixties.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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