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Predictors of wellbeing

Street scene
Researchers: Sally McManus
Published: August 2013


This study's focus on the predictors of positive wellbeing is designed to inform policy across the Department of Health, Public Health England, and beyond.

Read the full report.

It was published alongside the launch of a Change4Life campaign that encouraged families to make healthy changes to their school-time routines. This campaign drew on this study's findings. 

Key findings

Home life and family are most important for children's wellbeing

Seven-year-olds are happiest where they get on well with siblings, and have fun together with family at weekends, with parents who do not shout or smack them.

At every age - social relationships are key

Spending time with children is associated with higher wellbeing among adults. Regular contact with local neighbours is also significant.

Healthier tends to mean happier

We know that healthy behaviours matter to wellbeing later in the life course, this may be because its outcome - being healthier - is a key driver of feeling good and functioning well.

Adults in happy relationships have higher wellbeing

While adults in happy and harmonious relationships unsurprisingly had higher wellbeing, those in an unhappy relationship report lower wellbeing than those not in a relationship at all.


To carry out secondary analyses, we drew on data from the:

  • Millennium Cohort Study (MCS);
  • Understanding Society (USoc); and the
  • Health Survey for England (HSE).

A wide array of factors - spanning most aspects of life - were tested as potential predictors of subjective wellbeing.

Read the report