Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The Return of the Smug Danes

On the BBC website today: not one but two articles referring to new research about the general unhappiness of British people (and how the Danes top the league tables again). Having looked at our figures, I would say that 7.5 (or even 7) out of 10 ain’t bad, wouldn’t you, it doesn’t sound like it’s a victory for Meldrew just yet. Plus, it’s still higher than the global average which is 6.75 out of 10....

On a serious note though, according to Dr Luisa Corrado, of Cambridge University, where the research was carried out, “The UK shows falling trust in government, the police and other institutions and higher social distrust, which might explain why the level of happiness among British people has also fallen." I was struck by this because I came to a similar conclusion having read the UNICEF study on Child Well-being in Rich Countries (which we have blogged about Cambridge University before).

In the UNICEF study, young people aged 11, 13 and 15 were asked ‘do you find your peers generally kind and helpful?’, to which only 43% of British children said yes. 43%! Not only is Britain at the bottom of the OECD countries, it is also lower than all the non-OECD countries surveyed as well – e.g. Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

So we came bottom out of 29 countries on that score. I think that is something to be seriously concerned about, don’t you? Fortunately, trust can be built in families, communities, organizations and societies, but it requires a different way of thinking about everything from parenting to public policies.

1 comment:

Yang-May said...

I heard a story from my colleague this morning how a woman in her tube carriage collapsed and no-one rushed to help her. Instead they just tutt-ed in annoyance. How depressing is that? On the other hand, my experience is that most Londoners have been helpful and kind in one way or other eg when I or someone else has fallen over in the street etc. so hopefully our spark of decency won't be entirely snuffed out just yet!