Most Britons are happy despite the gloomy economic climate and recent riots

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THE majority of British people are happy in spite of gloomy economic news and social disorder over the summer, figures have revealed.

A study of well-being shows 76 per cent of people rated themselves as seven out of 10 or more when asked to gauge how satisfied they were with life. And the poll of 4,200 adults carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a further 73 per cent rated themselves as seven or more out of 10 when asked how happy they felt.

However, more than one in four, or 27 per cent, rated themselves above five out of 10 in a scale where zero rated as “not all anxious” and 10 rated as “completely anxious” when answering the question “how anxious did you feel yesterday?” compared to 57 per cent with ratings of less than four out of 10.

The findings from continuous polling between April and August – apart from May – are the first set of experimental results on subjective well-being from the ONS following the launch last November of the national well-being programme by David Cameron.

Stephen Hicks, ONS project leader for measuring subjective well-being, said: “These are early experimental results from our opinions survey but nevertheless they give us an indication of the well-being levels within Great Britain in this case.”

People polled in the survey were asked how satisfied they were with life, how happy they felt yesterday, how anxious they felt yesterday and to what extent they felt that the things they do in life are worthwhile.

The results showed that the better a person rated their health, the more likely they were to report higher ratings for life satisfaction, the extent to which the things they do in life are worthwhile and whether they were happy .

Having a partner was also positively associated with life satisfaction, worthwhile and “happiness yesterday” ratings. Ratings were lower on average for life satisfaction, worthwhileness and happiness for people who were unemployed than those who were employed. The results come after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD found Britons are one of the world’s most satisfied peoples.

But the poll was carried out before the Chancellor George Osborne’s grim economic news this week, and forecasts from the Institute for Fiscal Studies warning that household incomes are set to drop by 7.4 per cent between 2009/10 and 2012/13.