ONS is seeking views on next publication of personal wellbeing data

Personal wellbeing, people's thoughts and feelings about their own quality of life, is an important aspect of national wellbeing and is used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to supplement other economic, social and environmental statistics to provide a statistical picture of the nation's well-being. The ONS is aiming to publish the next annual release of Personal Wellbeing data in September 2014, and is seeking the views of local authorities and other current and potential users of local area data on how they currently use the data or plan to do so and preferred methods of presenting the statistics. Please respond by 16 May 2014.

The latest release of Personal Wellbeing data includes a written report accompanied by excel data tables. The commentary in the next report will include UK level as a whole, the four UK countries and English regions. The ONS propose that data at county and single tier local authority level will be included in the accompanying data tables only, without further commentary in the report.  They are seeking your views on 3 questions:

Q1. Would the proposal of providing commentary for the top level geographies and data only for lower level geographies in the supporting reference tables be sufficient for your needs?

Q2. A large proportion of local authority district data are suppressed in the data tables due to small annual sample sizes. ONS is developing ways to overcome this by combining datasets for several years to increase the sample size and improve the robustness of the data.

There are two options for carrying this out:

  1. ONS could compile a rolling three year dataset to be released on an annual basis covering the preceding three years, or
  2. ONS could combine data for three years which would be released every three years

Which of the two options for combining data would best suit your needs?

Q3. Do you have any other suggestions or comments on the way data local area data are presented, either within the report or supporting data tables?

Please provide any feedback via the StatsUserNet discussion forum for personal wellbeing data or via email to: personal.well-being@ons.gsi.gov.uk . Please include details on the type of organisation you work for (e.g. local authority, local health and well-being board), and how you currently use or intend to use the data. 


How the data on personal wellbeing is collected

The latest data on personal wellbeing is collected through the Annual Population Survey (APS) which includes responses from around 165,000 people. This provides a large representative sample of adults aged 16 and over who live in residential households in the UK. Since April 2011, the APS has included four questions which are used to monitor personal well-being in the UK:

  1. Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?

  2. Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

  3. Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?

  4. Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?

People are asked to give their answers on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is 'not at all' and 10 is 'completely'. These questions allow people to make an assessment of their life overall, as well as providing an indication of their day-to-day emotions. Although 'yesterday' may not be a typical day for any one individual, the large sample means that these differences 'average out' and provide a reliable assessment of the anxiety and happiness of the adult population in the UK over the year.

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