Health, wealth and happiness – Week 38

The state of the nation has slumped to the same level of well-being as we saw towards the end of the World Cup. Is this a worrying sign? By Doug Edmonds, managing director, 2CV

This week’s well-being index drops quite significantly by 7 points, registering at just 36. One thing is clear – people are not as happy as they were last week.

The survey shows a dip of 8 points as happiness levels fall from just over half the nation feeling content, to only 43 per cent reporting their positive outlook.

This is significant because happiness can be used as an indicator to predict consumer spending patterns, particularly since attitudes have shifted so significantly about guilt-free pleasure of debt and credit cards. If this slumped level of happiness continues, marketers will need to adapt.

The highest statistic reported on well-being levels this week by consumers is young people’s health figures, with 48% claiming they feel healthy. In contrast, the lowest comes from the middle aged group in the wealth aspect, with only 24% able to claim they are happy with their financial lot. This is not surprising following the release of new figures detailing increased prices and falling incomes, causing the middle aged bracket to consider where their own budget cuts will take place.

All aspects drop this week, with wealth only falling 1 point to 28%, but health and happiness have dropped 7 and 9 points respectively. Lansley’s NHS white paper promising more choice and information to the nation has caused a stir and is likely to affect consumers’ views on health products and services. Marketers should monitor the news agenda and public reaction carefully to ensure that they target their campaigns effectively.

Here are the results by demographic:

Young people
The last month has seen relatively high levels of happiness for young people. Thinking about teenagers and young parents in particular, this could be due to the school holidays starting and, for once, people being able to enjoy a warm, sunny break instead of the showers which traditionally descend the minute school’s out. However, there was a dip this week of 6 points to 42%, possibly caused by anxiety over the forthcoming release of national exam results. Health and wealth fell by only a few points each this week.

Middle-aged band
Following four weeks of upward trends amongst the 35 to 54 year olds, this week brings a significant decline. Only 39% of those questioned remain happy, a dramatic decrease of 13 points on last week, and their overall wellbeing has also dipped to 33% from 38%. Interestingly, this group feel slightly happier with their financial situation, rising from 20% to 24%.

Grey market
Overall wellbeing figures have taken the sharpest fall in the 55 to 74 year old bracket, with only 40% of this group reporting that their general wellbeing is good, down from almost half 49% last week. Their health rating has fallen to 39%, down 5 points. This could have been caused by a report for GPs advising them to prescribe fewer drugs, leading the elderly to doubt the effectiveness of their care.

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