Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Government survey: Britons happy

Gold medal winning cyclists at the Beijing games
Britain was riding high at the Olympics when the survey was carried out

Nine out of ten people are happy - and seven in ten optimistic about the future - a government survey suggests.

The National Social Marketing Centre's findings were published amid widespread fears of recession, falling house prices and rising unemployment.

The report says "in general Britain is a happy nation" with 70% expecting more positive than negative experiences.

It does note an "intensification of the global banking crisis" since the 1,994 people were surveyed in August.

At the time the Department of Health-funded survey was carried out the UK was riding high at the Olympics, picking up its best medals performance for decades.

In a sense you need to have optimism for your mental health
Alex Christopoulos
National Social Marketing Centre

Since it was carried out by the NCSM and University College London there has been a banking crisis and dramatic economic downturn.

Author of the report - Some Are More Equal Than Others - Alex Christopoulos, told the BBC: "It would be interesting to repeat it now."

But he added: "These sorts of surveys tend to stay fairly stable... but in August [the economic outlook] was less bad than it is now."

Recession uncertainty

"In a sense you need to have optimism for your mental health," he said.

"If you get too pessimistic about the credit crunch it is bad. If we are on the cusp of a recession, it's difficult for people to say whether it's going to go on for a long time."

The survey found that high earners, with a salary above 30,000 a year, had the highest rate of optimism - 80% - for the next five to 10 years.

Middle earners - on between 17,500 to 29,999 - had a 69% rate, while those among those on less than 17,500 it was 66%.

Mr Christopoulos said: "The differences were quite a stark finding. They show how people's position in society, by income, education or social class, does have a massive impact on how they are feeling about things like health and so on."

The report says: "The 'credit crunch' which was triggered by the collapse of the US sub-prime property market in 2007, provided the backdrop to this survey.

"The fieldwork was completed before the intensification of the banking crisis in September and October 2008."

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