Last week, the Boston Consulting Group published its Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) report, which measures the wellbeing of citizens across 160 countries.
The UK scored in the bottom 25 when it comes to how effectively it translates economic growth into improved wellbeing - falling below our neighbours in Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. The report found that despite the UK's rising GDP, a disparity is occurring between our growing economy and the wellbeing of our population.
And, things may be set to get worse over the next few months - in light of the decision taken in June to leave the EU. As a result of the uncertainties that lie ahead, the IMF has lowered the UK's growth forecasts and the economy is reported to be shrinking. This is bad news, but the potential fall-out of the Brexit is made all the more sobering when we consider that the SEDA report showed EU policies do actually lead to improved wellbeing.
Key areas that the UK is falling down on include health, education and income, which really resonated with us at Central YMCA - having published our 'World of Good' report only months ago.
Reaching out to over 1600 16-25 year olds, we looked to uncover the biggest issues faced by young people today. We found that some of the most pressing concerns faced by today's youngsters relate to wellbeing and include education and health - with failing within the mainstream education system, body image and lack of employment opportunities being cited as the top three issues. Also ranking highly were concerns surrounding substance abuse and family breakdown.
As a result of these findings, we took the decision to undertake a new study - this time looking into wellbeing within the UK, and it has been one of our biggest to date. We've spent the past few months researching, collecting information and analysing it with our wellbeing report, which is set to be launched in the next few weeks.
We've felt that for too long the issue of wellbeing has been treated as a secondary one - a mere afterthought, while the focus has remained on the performance of the economy. But, as the SEDA report has demonstrated, a strong economy is only one side of the coin.
We need to look towards Norway and Germany - two countries that have been able to translate their economic growth into improved wellbeing for citizens. They've done this by working to deliver more economic equality, improved housing and ensuring citizens have a healthy work life balance, amongst other things.
The SEDA findings blows the idea that the richer the country, the happier its people, right out of the water. This, paired with our upcoming research, will put it to the decision makers in the UK, and further afield, to take more ownership of the issue and make more concerted efforts to improve overall wellbeing.
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