The UK's average happiness and life satisfaction have dropped for the first time since records began nearly 10 years ago, figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.
By March 2020, the average happiness had declined to the lowest levels since 2014 and anxiety had risen to the highest levels recorded.
ONS said in the report, published on Thursday, that it was the first time since they had begun measuring well-being in 2011 that all 3 categories had “significantly worsened” when compared to the preceding year.
“In the year ending March 2020, there was a gradual deterioration in the longer-term ‘evaluative’ measures of personal well-being, including life satisfaction and feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile", the study said.
“During the first quarter of 2020, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and there were increasing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown in the UK, with the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a public health emergency of international concern by the end of January 2020".
The study discovered a “sharper deterioration in aspects of well-being reflecting our daily emotions, anxiety and happiness” and that “average anxiety in the UK jumped to its highest level since we began measuring well-being” and happiness levels also “declined steeply and significantly”.
There had been no significant improvement for any UK county or region in any of the four measures of personal well-being.
While the study shows that the encroaching Covid-19 pandemic and the UK's withdrawal from the EU could both be contributory factors. According to the report, in March 2020 – just prior to the introduction of the coronavirus lockdown in Britain – average levels of anxiety in the country had increased by 6.3% – with 3.05 out of 10 people saying they felt anxious, an increase from 2.87 in 2019.
Satisfaction did not see a sharp pre-lockdown decline and still higher than those seen in 2012.