Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Britons 'bored but happy' - study

Women with Union flag painted on her face
The report accuses the government of not focusing on Britons' well-being

Britons are more bored, tired and less likely to know their neighbours than other Europeans, a study suggests.

But think tank, the New Economics Foundation (NeF), found the UK to be the sixth happiest nation in Europe.

Data from more than 40,000 interviews from the 2006/07 European Social Survey was used to draw up the table.

The government said it was trying to encourage people to engage with their local communities, giving them more influence on decisions affecting them.

Denmark topped the research measuring overall well-being, with the UK ranked 13th out of 22 countries - just below Germany and two places above France.

The Nef study placed Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Austria and Sweden after Denmark with the highest levels of overall well-being.

Nic Marks from the New Economics Foundation discusses the report's findings

Countries such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary were said to have the lowest.

Long hours

According to the Nef, the UK was among the bottom four of the 22 nations on the basis of feelings of trust and belonging, including how close they were to their neighbours.

Governments have lost sight of fact that their fundamental purpose is to improve the lives of their citizens
Nic Marks
New Economics Foundation

While the over-75s scored highly in the same area, for the 16-24 age group, the UK reported the lowest levels of trust and belonging anywhere in Europe.

The Nef researchers said the UK's poor performance on this "key element of social well-being" was indicative of a "highly individualistic culture".

Britons also recorded the second lowest energy levels in Europe and were fourth highest when it came to feeling bored.

The Nef said the results show UK government policies have focused too much on economic growth at the expense of overall well-being.

'Social well-being'

Nic Marks, founder the Centre for Well-being at Nef, said: "Governments have lost sight of fact that their fundamental purpose is to improve the lives of their citizens.

"The UK's long hours culture and record levels of personal debt, have squeezed out opportunities for individuals, families and communities to make choices and pursue activities that would best promote personal and social well-being."

A Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said the government was trying to engage with young people.

She said: "The 2007-08 Citizenship Survey - a robust, nationally representative household survey - found that 94% of young people say they feel part of British society.

"We recognise that young people are a key part of society and play a crucial part in addressing issues facing their communities."

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