Well-being during recession in the UK

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 15, 2017


This article explores the impact of the recent recession on the well-being of the UK working age population by comparing two measures of well-being. One is a measure of evaluative subjective well-being, a measure which previous research has shown to be stable in the UK throughout the economic crisis. The second is a different but complementary measure of positive psychological health. By comparing the trajectories of these two measures using the same sample and modelling techniques the analysis examines how different measures may lead to different interpretations. Six waves of longitudinal data from Understanding Society and the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) are used. Latent curve models are used to analyse change over time. The results corroborate previous research showing that people’s evaluative subjective well-being remained relatively stable, on average, throughout the economic crisis. In contrast, the positive psychological health measure was found to decline significantly during the recession period. The paper highlights that what we measure matters. Using single measures as summaries of well-being masks the complexity of the term, and given their appeal in the social policy arena, single measures of well-being can be seen as problematic in some scenarios.

Published in

Applied Research in Quality of Life

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 12 , p.369 -387







Open Access article

© The Author(s) 2016

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.



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