The State of Happiness - The Young Foundation

on creating social networks and people's sense of belonging and less on formalised ... increasing adult wellbeing can have positive repercussions on the whole.
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The State of Happiness Can public policy shape people’s wellbeing and resilience? Nicola Bacon, Marcia Brophy, Nina Mguni, Geoff Mulgan & Anna Shandro

About the Young Foundation The Young Foundation combines creativity and entrepreneurship to tackle major social needs. We work on many different levels to achieve positive social change – including advocacy, research and policy influence as well as creating new organisations and running practical projects. The Young Foundation benefits from a long history of social research, innovation and practical action by the late Michael Young, once described as “the world’s most successful social entrepreneur” who created more than 60 ventures which address social needs.

The Local Wellbeing Project The Local Wellbeing Project is a unique, three-year initiative to explore how local government can practically improve the happiness and wellbeing of its citizens. The project brings together the Young Foundation with three leading local authorities, Manchester City Council, Hertfordshire County Council and South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council; Professor Lord Richard Layard from the London School of Economics, and the Improvement and Development Agency for local government. The project is also backed by key central government departments.

Contents Acknowledgements









Understanding happiness and wellbeing



Measuring wellbeing



What is the relevance of wellbeing to key areas of public policy? 5.1 Lifestages and wellbeing 5.1.1 Family and childhood 5.1.2 Education 5.1.3 Work 5.1.4 Ageing 5.2 Society and wellbeing 5.2.1 Health 5.2.2 Sports and the arts 5.2.3 Community 5.2.4 The environment

40 42 42 49 55 61 65 65 70 71 80

Conclusions: Implications for public policy



The state of happiness: Can public policy shape people’s wellbeing and resilience? First published in Britain in 2010 by The Young Foundation 18 Victoria Park Square London E2 9PF UK Copyright resides with the Young Foundation. © 2010. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-905551-12-5 Printed by Solopress on 9lives Offset paper (FSC certified 100% recycled fibre) using vegetable inks. Cover illustration by Claire Scully. Designed and typeset by Effusion. 3

The State of Happiness


Acknowledgements Many thanks to our funders: yy Hertfordshire County Council, Manchester City Council and South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council yy The Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA) yy The Audit Commission yy Communities and Local Government (CLG) yy Department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) yy Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) yy Department of Health (DH) yy The Learning and Skills Council yy The Local Government Association yy The National Apprenticeship Service And to the key contacts from the project partners whose support, advice and inspiration have been critical to the success of the Local Wellbeing Project: Andrew Simmons, Hertfordshire CC, and his predecessor, Alan Dinning Geoff Little and Sharon Kemp, Manchester CC Irene Lucas (now at CLG), Diane Wood (now at Cumbria County Council) and Tony Duggan, South Tyneside MBC Adrian Barker and Vicki Goddard, from IDeA Professor Lord Richard Layard, LSE The Advisory Board was chaired by Lucy de Groot (until 2009) and then Andrew Cozens, both from IDeA. Many other individuals in the three areas, in government and other agencies have contributed enormously to the work of this project. They are all listed at the end of the report.



The State of Happiness

1  Summary Democratic governments have always been i