When people are healthy, active and positive, they can make the most of opportunities. This is part of our vision for a vibrant economy. We assess health, wellbeing and happiness on a mix of physical and mental health indicators.
So, for physical health, we measure participation in sports, life expectancy at birth, the rate of diabetes in adults, and the rate of obesity in adults and among children in Year 6. For mental health, we measure indicators such as happiness, anxiety, life satisfaction and ‘life worthwhile’ responses to surveys. We also consider the number of hours people typically work.
Happy places countrywide
In England’s geography of health, wellbeing and happiness, the highest-ranking places are spread across the country, with some forming ‘haloes’ around cities and others occupying more rural areas. Areas in the South East, Yorkshire, the East of England, the East and West Midlands and London all feature in the top 20. The South East dominates, with nearly half (46%) of the areas in this region ranking in the top 20% nationally. These include Waverley and Hart, which ranked first and second respectively.
In other regions, clear clusters of areas perform strongly. For example, the North West has a cluster of high scorers around the Lake District, including South Lakeland and Eden. In Yorkshire, there’s one around Richmondshire, Craven, Harrogate and Hambleton. And in the South West, there are clusters in Gloucestershire (Cotswold and Stroud) and Devon (Teignbridge, East Devon, West Devon and Mid Devon).
At the other end of the ranking, there are clear challenges in the North East. No areas perform above the national average and half (50%) are in the bottom 20% nationally. This poor performance is particularly stark given that parts of the North East border some of the best-performing areas in the country on this basket of measures.
Cities also face significant challenges on health, wellbeing and happiness. Parts of London and other cities across the East and West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire rank in the bottom 20% nationally. Many of these cities rank highly in terms of prosperity and dynamism. This highlights the importance of looking beyond traditional economic measures to understand the success and vibrancy of a place. It also underlines the scale of the challenge for those responsible for place-shaping and points to an important role for businesses. What can businesses do to improve employees’ wellbeing and help them live healthier and happier lives?