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February 2023

Subjective wellbeing in different occupations in UK 2012-2022

Subjective wellbeing in different occupations in UK 2012-2022

About the report

The time we spend in paid employment is a large part of life in the UK and is a major factor in our wellbeing. 

Yet, despite the UK’s strong track record and history in measuring wellbeing, people are poorly armed with information about the subjective wellbeing associated with a particular job or career.

To help increase access to – and use of – this knowledge, we have UK data 2012-2022 to explore:

  • how wellbeing varies between occupations;
  • how wellbeing changed over time across different occupations;
  • how salary affects wellbeing;
  • how the pandemic affected wellbeing.

Specifically, we looked at all four ONS4 measures (life satisfaction, happiness, anxiety and worthwhile) for nine main Standard Occupational Classification occupation types over the last 10 years. Data was taken from the Annual Population Survey and the 2020 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

This analysis is part of our work to accelerate wellbeing data analysis, making our own methods visible and transparent, the data more accessible and metrics more widely used. 

It updates work conducted in 2016 for the Centre by Ewen Mackinnon in 2016, which looked at the relationship between gross annual salary in 2013 and mean Life Satisfaction 2011-2013.

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