A study of 1,000 young people in Nottingham, exploring the potential of measuring wellbeing for policymakers.

The idea that Government should be concerned with people’s well-being or happiness is no longer frivolous. There has been a surge of interest in this area, including the devastating finding that whilst economic output has nearly doubled in the last 30 years life satisfaction levels in the UK have remained flat. NEF research has shown that quality of life and social progress had remained stagnant in the UK over the last 30 to 40 years, never regaining a 1976 peak, despite vigorous economic growth since then.

This study of young people’s well-being by NEF shows that young people’s wellbeing drops drastically at secondary school, with significant effects on their personal development.

The research, done in partnership with Nottingham City Council, looks at two measures of well-being in over 1,000 youngsters: life satisfaction and personal development. Personal development is related to being curious, and engaging in challenging and absorbing activities. Previous studies have only focused on life satisfaction, but this other dimension of wellbeing is important for people’s overall ability to cope well with life’s challenges and is directly related to physical health, particularly in later life.”