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ONS launches new consultation into National Well-being measures

Released: 31 October 2011 Download PDF

People’s satisfaction with life and other individual assessments of well-being are at the heart of measuring the nation’s well-being according to the Office for National Statistics.

Launched today, ONS is opening a consultation on key themes and headline indicators of national well-being, which they propose are vital in understanding how to measure the UK’s progress by more than just its economic performance.

ONS has developed ten key themes, of which individual well-being is one, along with an initial set of measures following extensive feedback to the national debate “what matters to you?”, as well as by studying further research.

The themes or “domains” and the initial measures will be used in discussions with interested groups and individuals to assess their potential as eventual indicators to measure the UK’s national well-being.

The set of domains are:
• Individual well-being
• Our relationships
• Health
• What we do
• Where we live
• Personal finance
• Education and skills
• Governance
• The economy
• The natural environment

The consultation will run for twelve weeks with the results to be published in Spring 2012.  There is a discussion paper and facilities for responding on the ONS website at


Background notes

  1. The consultation will close on 23 January 2012
  2. The Office for National Statistics Measuring National Well-being (MNW) Programme was launched in November 2010 to provide a fuller understanding of how society is doing than economic measures, such as GDP, can provide. It started with a three month national debate on ‘What matters to you?’ to improve understanding of what should be included in measures of the nation’s well-being.

  3. Measuring What Matters: National Statistician's Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National Well-being was published in July 2011

  4. The ONS started in April 2011 to measure subjective (individual) well-being by including four new questions in the Integrated Household Survey (IHS). Around 200,000 people are being asked to rate their ‘life satisfaction’ on a scale of nought to ten, as well as how happy and how anxious they feel, and the extent to which the things they do in life are worthwhile.
  5. The first annual experimental set of data from the IHS will be available in July 2012 with interim results published earlier, including initial estimates from the Opinions Survey on 1 December 2011
  6. Further information on the Measuring National Well-being programme
  7. Experimental statistics are those which are in the testing phase, are not yet fully developed and have not been submitted for assessment to the UK Statistics Authority. 
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  11. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

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