What matters most to people in the UK and has that changed over time?

A group of people looking happy, they have their arms around each other and are in a park type setting with sunlight behind them

Since 2011, the ONS has been measuring ‘National Well-being’ to evaluate how we are doing as a nation. National Well-being includes the things that people have told us matter most to them, across the environment, society and economy. Here Liz McKeown looks at our GDP & Beyond work, focusing on responses to our recent online survey reviewing how we measure National Well-being. 

In 2022, as part of our continued commitment to better inform understanding of economic, environmental and social progress, we began to publish new quarterly estimates of the measures of national well-being and climate change insights alongside the latest monthly and quarterly estimates of GDP. In bringing these together on one day, we aim to provide a more holistic view of economic, social & environmental progress across our nation.  

On 3rd October 2022, Sir Ian Diamond launched a review of the Measures of National Well-being, an important element of our GDP & Beyond work. This review will ensure that the Measures of National Well-being still reflect what matters most to us in the UK. As part of the review, we engaged with the public though a survey to understand what issues matter most to national well-being and to gather their thoughts on our current measures and dissemination tools.   

Today we have published a summary of the findings, ahead of our recommendations due in the Spring. This tells us that the issues that matter most range from subjective and emotional well-being, through to good physical health, reducing inequalities and discrimination, physical safety and access to green spaces. 

Today, as part of our continued commitment to Measuring Progress across the UK, we have also published our latest insights on Measures of National well-being, and Climate Change, which capture many of these national well-being themes as well as our latest quarterly GDP estimates, which showed no growth in the last three months of 2022. These latest insights show a slight decrease in levels of satisfaction and happiness, and a move away from higher emission vehicles. We also look at transport emissions, as well as the impact of extreme weather events on business and transport. 

Bringing all this together each quarter reflects our interconnected economy, environment and society. We know, for example, that time spent in nature can be good for our mental wellbeing and our physical health; housing is more desirable if it is close to green spaces; and, to have a sustainable economy we must take care of our environmental assets.  

Following our recommendations in the Spring, we will continue to develop our Measuring Progress: GDP and Beyond work and explore new ways to shine a light on the value of these interconnections.  

Liz McKeown is Director of Public Policy Analysis and Co-lead for COVID-19 Analysis at the ONS