Wellbeing Report: UK's Happiness Revealed

Isobel Webster, West Of England Correspondent

Owning your own home and being employed could be the key to a satisfying life, according to the first results of the Prime Minister's so-called "happiness index".

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also found significant variations in the levels of "subjective well-being" between different ethnic groups, men and women, and healthy and unwell people.

Thousands of people were quizzed on how they think and feel about their lives by the ONS for its first annual National Well-Being Report.

The survey found that 45% of unemployed people rated their life satisfaction below seven out of 10 - compared with only 20% of those with jobs.

It also revealed that eight out of 10 people who own their own property - either outright or with a mortgage - reported a medium or high level of life satisfaction, compared with just two thirds of those who did not.

David Cameron commissioned the research - at a cost of £2m a year - to provide an understanding of how society is doing that is broader than economic measures like GDP.

The research appears to show that happiness differs in accordance with ethnic background, sex and health.

Women tended to be more satisfied with their lives than men, but also reported higher levels of anxiety.

The ethnic group with the highest average anxiety rating was Arab. And black people responded with the lowest average response to the question: "Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?"

Being healthy was also seen as important, but not a guarantee of happiness - almost one fifth of healthy people showed low levels of satisfaction. 

While almost 40% of people who classed their health as "bad" had high or medium levels of life satisfaction.

It seems your age and relationship status also impact on your "happiness index".

In general, three quarters of over 16s rated their overall life satisfaction as seven out of 10 or higher.

And it appears that older people are also happier, with those between 65 and 79 reporting higher average life satisfaction and feeling more worthwhile.

Married couples, civil partners and cohabiting couples also showed high levels of life satisfaction compared to people who were single, divorced or widowed.

The director of the Measuring National Well-Being Programme, Glenn Everett, said: "By examining and analysing both objective statistics as well as subjective information, a more complete picture of national well-being can be formed.

"Understanding people's views of well-being is an important addition to existing Official Statistics and has potential uses in the policy making process and to aid other decision making."

Mr Cameron has said the programme is crucial to finding out what the Government can do to "really improve lives".

The next set of results will be published in November this year.