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UK happiness drops but Brits are living longer, richer lives

UK happiness drops but Brits are living longer, richer lives
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

The UK population is earning more and living longer than in 2019, but is not as happy and working less, a study reveals.

The population was generally less happy in 2022 too, the most recent point the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) collected this data.

On average, the UK’s work span fell from 31.6 to 31.1 years, while the score for happiness dropped to 6.7 out of 10 – that’s a drop from 7.2 in 2019.

However, the average income rose to £38,045 per year, compared to £37,485 during the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic that began in 2020.

There was also a positive development in the UK’s health, with the population spending five more months in good health than in 2019. On average, the UK health span has improved from 70.1 to 70.5 years

Meanwhile neighbouring countries Ireland and France ranked higher on the global ranking for living longer and spending more time in good health than the UK.

In Ireland, people are working for a year longer on average, while French people live for two years longer, and in better health, too.

Following the results, the ILC has called for the next Government to commit to:

  • Invest at least 6% of the UK health budget annually on preventing ill health.
  • Take forward initiatives that include minimum alcohol pricing, sugar taxes, and compulsory reformulation of foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
  • Create an innovation fund to develop and scale initiatives to get the UK moving.

‘We can do much better’ for UK health and wealth

David Sinclair, chief executive of the ILC, said: “We can and should do much better. We urgently need new solutions to address the wide disparities in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor and to enable more people to stay healthy for longer.

“We need our politicians to embrace the nanny state; holding firm on policies and taking bold decisions to [benefit] generations in the future, even though they might inconvenience vested interests today.”

Stephen Burke, CEO of Hallmark Foundation, which co-funded the development of the index, said: “The latest index is a wakeup call for all nations – we can’t assume that we will continue to live longer lives in good health.

“The index highlights the issues countries need to consider if they want to move up the ranking – from how long we work to how happy we are. Crucially, all countries must do more to invest in prevention and reduce inequalities.”