Britain Is Apparently The 11th Happiest Country In Europe, According To ONS

Happiness, it seems is becoming a much more respected and valued measurement of a nation's wellbeing than money and power.

According to the Offiice of National Statistics (ONS), we are the 11th happiest country in Europe and slightly more content with our lives than other countries.

Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, happiness expert Susie Pearl says: "Happiness is now a hot topic and more measures are going on to calibrate how we are doing. In recent months there has been a shift into looking beyond financial figures and GDP to see how we are doing as a nation.

"There is a waking up to the realisation that if we want to know how well we are doing in the important measures, we should be looking at contentment, community spirit and happiness - and move away from the sole emphasis in the past on money."

Here 71.8% of adults rated their life satisfaction as seven out of 10 or higher in 2011 - compared to an EU-wide average of 69.3%.

Britain scored similarly for happiness to Germany (72.3%) and France (71.6%), but trailed well behind the most content nation, Denmark (91.0%). Citizens of Bulgaria were found to be the least satisfied, with just 38.3% giving a rating of seven out of 10 or higher.

Mark Williamson, director of Action For Happiness said: ""The true measure of a successful society is the happiness and wellbeing of its people. And sadly compared to our Northern European neighbours, the UK is still only a mid-table performer.

"Real progress is about much more than just growing the economy and we could - and should - be doing so much better at creating the conditions for people to lead happy lives. In particular, as our culture has become more individualistic and materialistic, levels of trust and social cohesion have fallen, which in turn undermines happiness. We should also be doing much more to help those whose wellbeing is the lowest, especially by investing more in mental health services."

The report suggested Britons have less of a sense of attachment to their local community. While 58.4% of people in the UK reported that they felt close to other people in the area where they live, this compared to an EU-wide average of 66.6% and was the second lowest of all 28 nations.

The UK was also close to the bottom for how confident people are that they can get help in the event of a problem. When asked who would give them support if they needed advice about a serious personal or family matter, 88.7% of UK respondents said they could count on help from family, friends, neighbours or someone else - the third lowest of all EU countries.

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People in this country appear to be more content in their relationships with relatives than those on the continent, but less happy with their social lives.

The average rating of satisfaction with family life by people aged 16 and over in the UK was 8.2 out of 10, compared to the European average of 7.8.

By contrast the average social life satisfaction rating here was 7.0 out of 10, lower than the 7.3 out of 10 recorded for the whole bloc.

The research also indicated a sizeable number of families across Europe have been hit by money trouble.

Susie added: "The research in happiness shows up that a feeling of community and having a helping hand when needed is very important in the development of well being. This is an area that we need to look at develop more of in our culture especially in cities.

"The weather plays a big part too in how happy we are as a country. Britains happiness levels dip with the seasons of cold weather, grey skies and rain."

A fifth (20.2%) of households in the UK in 2012 reported having difficulty in making ends meet, although this was lower than an estimated average of 27.7% for the 28-nation union.

The proportion of homes facing financial problems in Britain increased from 13.1% to 20.2% between 2005 and 2012, while the EU average changed very little over the same period, the ONS report said.

The UK was above the EU average for job satisfaction, the amount of time available to do enjoyable things in daily life and participation in sports and culture.

More than six in 10 people (62.7%) in the UK rated their health status as very good or good in 2011 - compared to the EU average of 64.0%

ONS researcher Ann Corp said: "The overall picture is we are not in the top few for any of them [the measures].

"We are near the bottom for a few and the rest are tending towards the middle."