Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland folk come top in David Cameron's contentment test

By Tom Moseley

Northern Ireland is reigning supreme as the happiest region of the United Kingdom.

The most comprehensive survey yet compiled into the state of the nation's wellbeing puts the province ahead of every other region on three out of four measures.

The findings from David Cameron's so-called happiness index, which cost £2m to compile, were published yesterday for the first time, covering a whole year's worth of interviews. Northern Ireland had been placed top in the interim, six-month report, published in February, prompting the Prime Minister to joke that Ulster's politicians "don't always give that impression".

Now a more detailed picture has been produced from the survey of 200,000 people aged 16 and over between April 2011 and March 2012, drawn up by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The coalition wants to assess the wellbeing of the nation, as well as its prosperity, and it could be used to shape future Government policy. Labour branded the exercise a waste of money.

People were asked four questions: how satisfied they were with life, how worthwhile they thought their life was, how happy they had been yesterday, and how anxious they had been yesterday, rating their feelings from 0 to 10.

Residents here rated themselves happier on the first three questions than any other part of the UK. Their 'life satisfaction' rating of 7.54 compared with Scotland on 7.48, Wales on 7.40 and London, on just 7.25. Their sense of worth was joint top, and people were more likely to be "happy yesterday" than any other region.

Only in the question "how anxious were you yesterday?" did Northern Ireland fail to top the poll, coming about halfway down.

Factfile: how we rated

  • On a scale of 0 to 10, overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays? Northern Ireland -7.54, UK -7.41
  • Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile? Northern Ireland -7.77, UK - 7.66
  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday? Northern Ireland - 7.40, UK - 7.28

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