Are We Really Happier After Brexit?

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Dec 19, 2017

Are We Really Happier After Brexit?

Post-referendum England has reported a small but significant rise in public happiness and wellbeing - but it depends on who you're asking


The statistics are in – and the “Remoaners” aren’t happy. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the first full year in post-referendum England has reported small, statistically significant increases in happiness, life satisfaction, and feelings that our lives are worthwhile. Not so great news for those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where results remained flat.

The poll, taken between June 2016 and July 2017, put average life satisfaction among those polled at an all-time high since measuring personal wellbeing began, back in 2011. Overall the stats look promising: life satisfaction was reported at 7.7 out of 10, happiness was at 7.5, and a feeling that “life is worthwhile” at 7.9.

Given the public’s all-time low confidence in Brexit negotiations, could this be an indicator that our current political situation has very little influence on our personal happiness? Possibly.

While the ONS did not ask individuals to give the reasons behind their scores, speculation suggests that strong economic figures could be responsible.

Employment rates are at their highest since comparable records began in 1971, with unemployment at its lowest since 1975, and net national disposable income per head up. Things sound positive.

Unfortunately, real household disposable income per head has fallen for the fourth quarter in a row, with consumers reporting a worse financial situation between April to July 2017 for the first time in two years.


There’s more worry on the horizon.

The pound is down again, more than 10% against the dollar, and driving up the cost of living, thanks to the higher cost of importing goods.

Inflation reached 3% in September 2017, with expected further rises and a failure of average wages to keep pace, leading to six months (and counting) of negative real earnings.

The downside doesn’t end there.

Household debt has grown at almost five times the rate of growth of wages, levels unseen since the 2008 financial crisis. Somewhat unsurprisingly, anxiety levels are on the rise again following a record low in 2015. So, why are we happier? Perhaps it’s the English ability to always look on the bright side of life.

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