The UK Office of National Statistics data on the wellbeing of the British population shows a unprecedented drop of about 10% in average wellbeing in the UK since March 2020. Anxiety levels almost doubled, slowly returning to normal, but wellbeing remains low as people are prevented from enjoying life and looking after their own livelihoods.
Some things to take note of:
1. The drop of 0.7 (from 7.7 to 7.0) in life-satisfaction is slightly higher than what I predicted it to be in early April, when I though it would be 0.5. It is still the biggest well-recorded drop in UK wellbeing we know of (the ONS data is based on tens of thousands of respondents, so quite precise). For the UK population as a whole of 66 million, this means 2 million WELLBYs are lost every month of this crisis. By contrast, 50,000 deaths of people with 5 more good years to live costs about 1.5 million WELLBY.
2. What is driving the drop in life-satisfaction is largely the loss of social contacts and loss of activities during the covid-crisis. The UK state-of-life study found no change for those still able to go to their “essential” job, but a large one for those forced to work from home or no longer able to work at all. Humans need close physical and social contact with others and become depressed and sad without it. This has been a central finding in the wellbeing literature for decades. As the Xhosa in South Africa say “people are people through other people”.
3. Think about all the things driving this massive wellbeing loss: the anxiety of everyone regarding the virus; the inability to hug family and friends; the inability for people to visit others; the loss of a social group at work, at sports, and in the pubs; postponed marriages; destroyed businesses and jobs; cancelled sports events, parties, theaters, dates, and music events. It has basically been a war on joy and companionship, devastating for people’s wellbeing and thus, also, their health.
What can you do to avoid a similar ongoing wellbeing disaster in Australia? Join the 183 others who have so far signed our open letter to the Australian prime-minister to open up borders and let life return to normality. Instigators of that letter included Graham Young, and Gigi Foster who have both done their best to warn the population of the huge loss to Australia from following the failed policies of the UK and Europe. The mainland Europeans have now woken up to their mistake, with President Macron of France bluntly admitting that France cannot afford a second lock-down because the first one was an economic and social disaster, and so France will simply ride out a second wave if there is one.
Btw, I had to generate the graph above myself because the ONS stopped bringing out graphs showing the progression of life-satisfaction from 2011-till-now exactly in March 2020. From then on, the updates showed what happened since March 2020, meaning you cant see the huge downturn in wellbeing in those updates. I dont know why they did this, but I have my suspicions.
On the quiet, we are indeed seeing how the loss of revenue of governments mean cuts to the very poorest in the world. While populations live out their fantasy of a risk-free world, the poor suffer what they must.