skip to main content
Britons' Life Ratings Decrease in 2012

Britons' Life Ratings Decrease in 2012

by Anna Manchin

BRUSSELS -- Britons now rate their current and future lives worse, on average, than they did in 2011. The collective life evaluation score for the U.K. fell to 43.6 in April, the lowest point so far this year and down from a high of 52.3 recorded one year ago.

At the same time, life ratings in the U.S. have improved, widening the gap between Americans' and Britons' life evaluation scores in the first four months of 2012.

Life Evaluation Index monthly trend in U.S. and U.K.

The average Life Evaluation Index score for all of 2012 so far in the U.K. is 44.5 -- down from 46.6 in 2011 -- compared with 50.4 in the U.S., which is up from 48.8 in 2011.

The Life Evaluation Index is a key component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which provides a comprehensive monthly measure of Americans' and Britons' physical, emotional, and financial health. The overall Life Evaluation Index score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of those suffering from the percentage of those thriving.

Gallup classifies respondents as thriving, struggling, or suffering according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and expectations for their lives in five years an 8 or higher. People who rate their current or future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering. All others are considered struggling.

About as many Britons are thriving as are struggling so far in 2012, which typically has been the case since Gallup and Healthways started tracking U.K. well-being monthly in January 2011. However, in March, April, and May of last year, many more Britons were thriving than struggling. Additionally, 5.7% of Britons were suffering in April of this year, higher than in April 2011.

Thriving, struggling, and suffering in the U.K.

Britons are less likely than Americans in 2012 to be thriving and more likely to be struggling and suffering.

U.K. Life Ratings Down Across Income Groups

In the U.K., as elsewhere, those in higher income groups tend to rate their lives higher. However, life ratings have declined so far in 2012 compared with 2011 across all income groups, except in the lowest one, which has remained stable.

Life Evaluation Index scores by income

Young Adults' Life Ratings Sink, While Older Britons' Stable

The Life Evaluation Index score for young adults in Britain has dropped to 51.4 in 2012, from 56.0 the last year. That drop mostly reflects a decline in the percentage of young Britons who are thriving, from 58.6% in 2011 to 54.9% in 2012.

While Britons in the 18- to 29-year-old age group had previously boasted the best life ratings, their ratings are now essentially the same as those in the 30- to 44-year-old age group. Older Britons' life ratings have remained more stable in 2012 and are lower than those in younger age groups.

Life Evaluation Index scores by age


Economic activity in the U.K. declined 0.3% in the first quarter of 2012, according to official government figures released last week. The economy shrank more than the Office for National Statistics estimated in April, and more than it did in the first quarter of 2011. The contraction was similar to that of the last quarter of 2011, indicating that there is no economic improvement in the country so far. Besides these classical economic measures, Gallup's findings on subjective experiences suggest that the fiscal crisis in the U.K. is negatively affecting residents.

Specifically, youth unemployment has been a problem for the U.K. since before the 2008-2009 financial and economic crisis, and the current dearth of new jobs and a sluggish economy are likely affecting young people at the beginning of their careers. Analysts have suggested, however, that the solution is not simply a matter of adding new jobs, but must be bolstered by a stronger economy and increased consumer and business confidence.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1-April 30, 2012, with a random sample of 16,769 adults, aged 18 and older, living in in the United Kingdom, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 5 cell phone respondents and 29 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within the regions. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, education, region, adults in the household, and cell phone status. Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recently published population data from the Census Bureau for Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030