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Wales’ ‘most satisfied’ people: it’s all about location

30 April 2014 | Tags: wellbeing, wales

A new study by NatCen Social Research, published today by the Welsh Government, has revealed that 16% of people in Wales rate their life satisfaction a perfect ten out of ten.

Analysing data from the National Survey for Wales, NatCen researchers found the people most satisfied with their lives were more likely to live in a better-off area. It didn’t matter whether it was urban or rural, what mattered was that people felt neighbours were willing to help each other out and that they felt secure and safe.

  • 42% of people who strongly agree that their neighbours help each other out had high life satisfaction (9 or 10 out of 10) compared with 27% of people who strongly disagreed that their neighbours help each other out.
  • 46% of people who feel very safe on public transport in their area at night had high life satisfaction compared with 28% of people who felt very unsafe.

Debt, unemployment, fear linked to lowest levels of wellbeing

While where people live (community and neighbourhood) was key to achieving the highest levels of satisfaction, lacking basic necessities at home mattered more at the other end of the spectrum.

The one in seven with the lowest levels of satisfaction were more likely to have no job, no partner, and a disability. Being in serious debt was strongly linked with low wellbeing, highlighting the importance of avoiding payday loan agencies and the value of services like that provided by Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.

Satisfied but sad: the people with mixed wellbeing

The researchers also found that about 14% of the Welsh population coupled high life satisfaction with feeling anxious and unhappy. This ‘mixed wellbeing’ group (described as the ‘Worthwhile-Anxious’ because they feel that what they do in life is worthwhile) tended to be younger, women, and living in deprived neighbourhoods. They were particularly likely to feel unsafe in public.

Improving the wellbeing of this group might include better street lighting and sight lines, more visible policing, and peopled neighbourhoods, helping residents to feel safe in public and on transport.

Sally McManus, Research Director, NatCen Social Research said “This research poses key questions to policymakers. Lifting people out of low wellbeing is about addressing life’s basic necessities – jobs, health and home. But what separates those with very high wellbeing from the rest is less concrete. It’s about creating neighbourhoods where people look out for each other and communities where people feel safe and secure.”

ENDS

For further details contact Leigh Marshall, Head of Press, NatCen Social Research: leigh.marshall@natcen.ac.uk 0207 549 8506 or 0782 803 1850 or Naomi Joyner, Press Officer, NatCen Social Research, 0207 549 9550.

For a copy of the full report, or for further information on the National Survey, contact Huw Jones, Welsh Government: huw.jones@wales.gsi.gov.uk 029 2082 5833.

Notes to editors:

NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

The National Survey for Wales (NSW), which began in 2012, is the Welsh Government’s key source of information on people’s views about a wide range of issues. Topics covered include public services, such as council, education, and health services; local area and safety; and wellbeing. The survey consists of face-to-face interviews with more than 14,000 people aged 16 and over who have been randomly selected to form a representative sample of adults across Wales (approximately 660 interviews in each local authority). Fieldwork is based on a random probability sample design and is conducted on a continuous basis. The information collected is used to inform the development of policy and the delivery of public services.

A full copy of the report will be available on the Welsh Government website at 9.30am on 30 April.