Suffering among underemployed Britons showed signs of rising before the recent riots in the United Kingdom, according to new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data.
The percentage of underemployed Britons who rated their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering” increased from 6% to 8% between 2010 and 2011, making them twice as likely to be suffering as Britons in general (4%) and as underemployed Americans (4%).
The Life Evaluation Index, a component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, asks Britons to evaluate their current lives as well as their expectations of where they will be in five years using the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale from 0 to 10, with “0” indicating the worst possible life and “10” the best possible life.
Britons who say they presently stand on steps 0 to 4 of the ladder and expect to stand on steps 0 to 4 five years from now are classified as “suffering.”
The slight uptick in suffering among underemployed Britons may reflect their increasing pessimism as unemployment started to rise again this year and the government instituted new austerity measures.
Suffering Britons also express hardship in more specific ways. Those who are suffering tend to report higher levels of anger, worry, and sadness than Britons whose are “struggling” or “thriving.” Gallup finds this same tendency among Americans, as well as other populations it has studied.
Underemployed Britons, whom Gallup defines as adults who are unemployed or who work part time but desire full-time work, are also more likely than employed Britons to experience many of these same negative emotions.
The suffering among underemployed Britons and the negative emotions that tend to accompany this state of wellbeing suggest there may be some validity to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s argument that sections of British society are “broken” and “sick.” As the government attempts to address the causes of the recent riots, the data suggest that in addition to the reported societal elements that were a precursor to the riots, legislators should also give weight to economic drivers and job creation.