National accounts of well-being framework
In this approach we consider well-being to be:
‘a dynamic process that gives people a sense of how their lives are going, through the interaction between their circumstances, activities and psychological resources or ‘mental capital’.
It goes beyond life satisfaction, to include social dimensions of well-being, as well as feelings, functionings and psychological resources.
Personal well-being is made up of five main components, some of which are broken down further into subcomponents. These are:
- Emotional well-being. The overall balance between the frequency of experiencing positive and negative emotions, with higher scores showing that positive emotions are felt more often than negative ones. This is comprised of the subcomponents:
- Positive emotions – How often positive emotions are felt.
- Absence of negative emotions – The frequency with which negative emotions are felt, with higher scores representing less frequent negative emotions.
- Satisfying life. Having positive evaluation of your life overall, representing the results of four questions about satisfaction and life evaluations.
- Vitality. Having energy, feeling well-rested and healthy, and being physically active.
- Resilience and self-esteem. A measure of individuals’ psychological resources. It comprises the subcomponents:
- Self-esteem – Feeling good about yourself.
- Optimism – Feeling optimistic about your future.
- Resilience – Being able to deal with life’s difficulties.
- Positive functioning. This can be summed up as ‘doing well’. It includes four subcomponents:
- Autonomy – Feeling free to do what you want and having the time to do it.
- Competence – Feeling accomplishment from what you do and being able to make use of your abilities.
- Engagement – Feeling absorbed in what you are doing and that you have opportunities to learn.
- Meaning and purpose – Feeling that what you do in life is valuable, worthwhile and valued by others.
Social well-being is made up of two main components:
- Supportive relationships. The extent and quality of interactions in close relationships with family, friends and others who provide support.
- Trust and belonging. Trusting other people, being treated fairly and respectfully by them, and feeling a sense of belonging with and support from people where you live.
In addition to these indicators, as an example of a well-being indicator within a specific life domain, a satellite indicator of well-being at work is also included. This measures job satisfaction, satisfaction with work-life balance, the emotional experience of work, and assessment of work conditions.
A full list of the questions included in each indicator, subcomponent and component can be found in Appendix 3 of the National Accounts of Well-Being report.