Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How happy is the UK? One of the determinants is your age

I guess when measuring economic data is such a dire experience, governments look around for other things to count that might have a more positive outlook.

The UK government has directed our statistics people to measure how us Brits are feeling about life. I guess the response might drive policy? More than likely it will be an interesting exercise that leads nowhere (sorry for the cynicism).

Anyway, the data from the survey is now available. Read this press release for links to all of the documents.

This document contains the initial findings and links to Excel spreadsheets containing the data.

I have to say I was not filled with confidence when I read this type of statement:

A good example of this is provided by the first annual experimental subjective well-being results.
These show that 45 per cent of unemployed people rated their ‘life satisfaction’ as below 7 out of
10. This is over twice as much than for employed people, 20 per cent of whom described their life
satisfaction as below 7 out of 10. This illustrates additional effects of unemployment on people, over
and above material dimensions that can be measured objectively.

Well it doesn't come as any shock that the unemployed are not as happy with life as the employed and so what if they are X% less satisfied with life? Firstly, there is nothing you can do about it and secondly it is a spurious measure.

More interesting, probably because it confirms my prejudices, is the measure of happiness by age.

The first graph is a "so what" type diagram. There is a small difference between the ages but nothing upon which to base any decisions - could easily be 'noise' in the research sample.

More interesting is the second graph that shows the extremes of low happiness and high anxiety. For regular readers of this blog you will know this is the same profile that Saga find in their quarterly surveys of the UK. The really stressful times are those late 40s to early 60s.

So what does this all mean to marketers. I would certainly take account of the difference in the likely emotional state of the older market  - clearly what works for a contented late 60s types is not going to resonate with the hassled mid 50s. Now of course you then have to lay on top of this the other segmentation factors. That is the hard bit. You need to pay money to get that advice.  Dick Stroud

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