As you read the following, ask yourself – growth in what and for whom?
After 30 years of unprecedented economic growth, the British are richer, healthier – but no happier than in 1973.
The latest Social Trends, the annual survey on the state of the nation from the Office for National Statistics, […] shows that household income has gone up by 60%, and household wealth has more than doubled, in the past twenty years.
The main reason for the rise in wealth has been the increase in house prices.
(Ah, house prices which fell by 2.5% in March…)
But the growing wealth has not led to greater happiness.
In 1973, 86% of people said they were satisfied with their standard of living, while in 2006 85% were satisfied.
The figures follow trends from around the world that show that happiness and satisfaction do not correlate with average income once countries reach “middle-income” levels.
And one in six UK adults reported that they suffered from a variety of mental health problems in the latest survey, of which the largest category was “mild anxiety and depression.”
In 1979, the real disposable income of the top 10% was three times greater than the real income of those in the bottom 10%, but by 2006 that had grown to four times greater.
And social mobility also appears to have declined, according to studies cited in the report.
Children born in 1958 to poor parents coming to adulthood in the 1970s, were more likely to have moved to a higher part of the income distribution than those born in 1970, who came of age in the new millennium.
And child poverty has remained stubbornly high, with 22% of children living in relative poverty in 2005/6, compared to 27% in 1990/91.