Thursday 4 October 2012

• Saga Quarterly Report shows how Britain’s golden summer lifted the nation’s mood • SMILE index turns positive for all over 50s • Happiness index also positive for sixty-somethings and women • Saga calls on policymakers to capitalise on ‘feel good’ factor



This summer’s spectacular Olympics and Jubilee celebrations lifted the spirits of Britain’s 21 million over 50s, the third Saga Quarterly report of 2012 reveals.

Saga’s SMILE index, which was launched earlier this year to measure how satisfied people over 50 feel in various elements of their life, has shown a significant bounce, with a 5% increase this quarter. Across all age groups, people report feeling more positive, satisfied and less worried.  This boost came despite slight falls in real incomes for most over 50s.

Dr Ros Altmann, Director General of Saga said: “Our SMILE index has finally started smiling. In the face of difficult economic circumstances for the over 50s, it is fantastic to see such a jump in people’s happiness during Britain’s golden summer months. The Olympics success stories have provided an antidote to economic gloom.”

Saga’s Quarterly Reports measure the Quality of Life for Britain’s over 50s by surveying over 10,000 people each quarter to track qualitative areas of their wellbeing, together with measures of their economic wellbeing as reported by official data.

The report’s findings show the greatest quarter on quarter improvement in quality of life since Saga began its records in 2011. For the first time some groups are reporting a positive position on the happiness sub-index, including women, people in their sixties and higher socio-economic groups. Inflation and inflationary expectations also fell this quarter, as did levels of unemployment.

Despite these improvements since last quarter; over 50s still feel that their standard of living, health and happiness are worse than a year ago. Money remains a pre-eminent concern, with financial problems the top anxiety this quarter. Over 50s are continuing to rein in their spending and increasing numbers of older people are delaying retirement.

Dr Altmann continued, “I certainly hope that policymakers can capitalise on the ‘feel good’ factor for the over 50s to help sustain the quality of life improvements.  It is important to note that although we have seen a significant lift, many over 50s still feel worse off than last year, so things are far from easy for older generations. However, the signs are encouraging and I hope the trend will continue in coming quarters. Policymakers should take heed of our analysis and ensure this Quarter’s boost is not momentary.”

Key Findings:

• The Saga Quality of Life Index has increased significantly this quarter although it remains negative
• Saga indices for Standard of Living, Happiness and Health all improved this quarter, across every socio-economic groups.
• The SMILE Index of wellbeing shows an improvement in wellbeing across all age groups between Q2 2012 and Q3 2012.
• The Happiness sub-index for sixty-somethings, for women and for better-off older people moved into positive territory, meaning that these groups are, on average, happier than a year ago.
• Employment among those aged 65 and over has risen, now standing at a record high.
• Money-related worries for the over 50s have grown more as a concern than crime and health.
• Significant numbers of over 50s continue to rein in essential and non-essential spending in response to the tough economic environment.


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