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Fame, I'm going to learn how to fly ...
Men five times more fame-hungry than women
A peak behind the curtain: compiling the Health, Wealth & Happiness survey each year is a mission. A lot of thought goes in. We can only ask a certain number of questions and each makes the cut on its potential to throw up illuminating and / or interesting national trends.
What is the true key to happiness? is a question we’ve had and dropped and resurrected and dropped again over the years.
It’s not a permanent fixture because the answer’s pretty predictable. Whenever we ask about the key to happiness, Brits invariably tell us that friends and family are what counts. And while this is heart-warming to read, there’s nothing new there …
But we’ve learned that the context is as important as the question. We brought this question back during Covid, and people really doubled down on their appreciation for friends and family relationships. The health and love of our nearest and dearest naturally took on extra pertinence amid a global health crisis.
The Health, Wealth & Happiness panel were divided on whether to include this question again in 2023, but the different context pushed it into the final cut. Hence once again we asked the nation: what is the key to all happiness?
Friends and family … again
On first glance, we got what we expected. Yes, once again, the key to true happiness for the UK as a whole is friends and family. When asked to name three things that are most important to happiness, survey respondents picked ‘strong relationships’ (66%) first, with ‘work / life balance’ (47%) a distant second.
That was a name three things question. When asked to pick the thing that’s most important overall in happiness (i.e., you can pick only one) ‘strong relationships’ came out tops (35%) and ‘children’ in second (27%).
Again, heart-warming to read but a wasted question? Not really …
Money over children
When we size-up the different answers given by men and women, we get a real sense of the divergent priorities – and the sense that they’ve sharpened – during the cost-of-living/ economic crisis.
When asked to select up to three answers, women pick ‘strong relationships’ (72%) at the top, followed by second-place ‘children’ (49%), and ‘work / life balance’ in third (45%).
But for men the story is different. Men picked ‘strong relationships’ (60%) at the top, followed by ‘work / life balance’ (48%) and ‘having money / wealth’ (45%) closely behind in third.
Children land at fourth; way back at 38% and a full 11-percentage point south of the female response. Sifting back through Health, Wealth & Happiness reports from years past, the differences were never before this extreme.
And these differences, men to women, continue down through the list. For example, career success is important in the happiness of 13% of men, yet just 10% of women. Academic success is top tier in happiness for 7% of men and 5% of women.
Perhaps most interesting of all, ‘fame, recognition and popularity’ is high in the happiness hierarchy for one in 20 men (5%) but only one in 100 women (1%).
Forgive us, but certain stereotypes hold that it’s the other way around; that females’ lust for fame and popularity is more pertinent.
Nope. Health, Wealth & Happiness data shows men’s thirst for fame and recognition outmuscles women’s by a multiple of five.
Fame, I’m going to learn how to fly …
With men at 5% and women 1%, the national average shakes out at 3%. Basically, one in three people nationwide thinks ‘fame, recognition and popularity’ is Top-3-important in generating happiness.
With 3% the national average, it’s interesting to note the demographics which particularly value fame as a crucial component in happiness. At 5%, men do, but so too do UK ethnic minorities (5%).
Perhaps predictably, 18-34-year-olds are more likely (7%) to feel fame is important than older age groups but, interestingly, fame is of above-average importance the more a person earns. Some 7% of those who earn over £60,000 per year believe fame is a Top 3 key to happiness.
Where abouts in the UK is fame most valued? London. In the capital, one in 12 (8%) people list fame in their Top 3 - a hefty old proportion.
Happier or unhappier?
This whole line of questioning is part of the Happiness segment of the 2023 Health, Wealth & Happiness report. Sure, we want to know what makes people happy, but it’s a series of questions which starts by asking if Brits feel happier now than they did this time last year.
The good news is a majority do. Sort of.
Our nationally representative survey reveals that basically half (49%) of Britons feel ‘no more or less happy’ than last year. A quarter (25%) are ‘less happy’. Just shading it for the optimists, 26% of the UK say they do feel happier this year versus last.
It’s not much, but we’ll take it. As positive endings go, it’s about the best we can do.
Sophie began as a Protection Adviser at LifeSearch in 2017, helping customers to Protect the lives they love. She now brings her experience to Protection Content within the Marketing team. Sophie’s a passionate Street Dance teacher in her spare time, and teaches children and adults all the right moves.See all articles by Sophie Cussons
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