Wednesday, 19 April 2017


Social Policy Research Unit


The What Works Centre for Well-being and the New Economics Foundation (Abdallah et al 2017)[1] has developed an index which provides a measure of well-being for local authority (LA) Districts in England. This note explores whether local level well-being is associated with deprivation using the English Index of Deprivation 2015.

The What Works well-being index is derived from pooled data from the Office of National Statistics Annual Population Survey: Personal Well-Being, April 2012 - March 2015 (and earlier). The index has four components:
·         Overall how satisfied are you nowadays?
·         Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
·         Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday? and
·         Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
Respondents are given a scale from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest) to rank their response to each question. Available in the data set are mean scores and indicators of variation for each component for each district and averages for all four components.

Table 1 shows that deprivation is strongly associated with the means of three of the components of well-being and most strongly with life satisfaction. That is an area with less deprivation and thus a higher deprivation rank has a population with higher life satisfaction. The exception is the anxious component which is only weakly associated with deprivation but the direction of the association is consistent (because a higher score means more anxious on this variable). Figure 1 shows the association of the mean of all four components of well-being and deprivation rank. Also the higher the deprivation rank, that is the less deprived an area, the less the inequality in well-being within the LA.  The opposite is also true - areas with higher inequality in well-being are more deprived (shown in figure 2). The association with deprivation is stronger for inequalities in well-being than for mean well-being.

Table 1: Correlation of LA deprivation rank and mean and variation in well-being 2012-2015

Correlation with Index of Deprivation rank 1=most deprived LA
Mean life satisfaction
80/20 ratio life satisfaction
Mean happy
80/20 ratio happy
Mean worthwhile
80/20 ratio worthwhile
Mean anxious
80/20 ratio anxious
Mean all four components
Standard deviation of all four components

Figure 1: ID rank by mean of four components of life satisfaction 2012-2015

Figure 2: ID rank by Inequality in well-being

Conclusion: About a third of the well-being in a LA District can be explained by material deprivation.

[1] Abdallah, S., Wheatley, H. and Quick, A. (2017) Wellbeing inequality measures. London: What Works Centre for Wellbeing/New Economics Foundation.  

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