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Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Friday, 22 April 2011 11:08 UK
What did The Other Census tell us?

By Richard Knight
Series producer, More or Less

A couple laughing
People from Northern Ireland said they laugh most regularly.

14,000 people filled out the More or Less/Today alternative online census. What did we discover about them?

When More or Less and Today decided to create an "alternative" census, one which sought subjective data on happiness and disposition, we knew we were on difficult ground. Because the sample would not be representative, our results would be highly questionable.

If anyone else had done this and used the results to sell package holidays or shampoo, More or Less would have been the first to tears strips off them. But we're not selling anything and… well, we thought it might be an interesting exercise anyway.

Some 14,000 of you filled in The Other Census - thank you - and we had about equal numbers of men and women in our sample.

You seem to be a happy bunch. Over 10,000 laugh two or three times a day, or many times a day; almost 8000 of you are fairly happy and almost 4000 are very happy - with fewer than 400 not at all happy. And over 10,000 of you consider yourselves to be optimists; and the over 65s are the most optimistic of the lot.

Filling in the blanks

Most of you are not lonely, but nearly 4000 of you are. What is perhaps surprising is that the loneliest age is apparently 16-24, where nearly half of respondents said they were lonely.

The same age group were the most likely to consider themselves to be selfish people: more than 40%, compared to about one third overall. Perhaps this tells us something about what it is to be young and British today. Or perhaps the real message is that if you are under 25 and you listen to Radio 4, you are in a bad place.

We asked whether you are considerate and kind to almost everyone. Nearly 12,000 of you say that you are, an overwhelming majority. And kindness is almost uniformly distributed across the ages. Good for you.

A man on a phone on a crowded bus
How many people described themselves as "selfish"?

We also have a regional perspective. Bad news for the people of Wales: you laugh the least, according to our survey. The people of Northern Ireland laugh the most.

Finally, we asked you what might make you happier. Almost 2,800 said a higher income would do the trick, but almost as many named better health, love, or more or better sleep.

As is so often the case, however, it was not the numbers which spoke loudest. We left a blank box in which respondents could tell us what single thing would make them happier.

Here are just a handful of the answers we received: a baby; for my wife to indicate in any way that she loves me; a girlfriend; my children getting jobs; not to be my father's carer; better health for the people I love; fewer stupid people; not being widowed; return of my wife from Alzheimer's; guilt-free extra-marital sex; to be twenty years younger; less hassle from my ex-husband; and sunshine.

At least one of those people, I hope, got what they wanted this Easter.

More or Less is on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 22 April ar 1330 BST and Sunday 24 April at 2030 BST. Listen via the BBC iPlayer or download the programme podcast.




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