Most 11-year olds today are happy with their lives

More than half of children aged 11 say they are ‘completely happy’ with their lives, according to new findings from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS).

Researchers analysed information given by more than 13,000 cohort members, who were born across the UK in 2000-2001. In the most recent survey at age 11, the children were asked to rate how happy they were with different aspects of their lives on a seven-point scale, ranging from ‘completely happy’ to ‘completely unhappy’.

The millennium children were particularly satisfied with their family lives, with nearly three quarters of boys and girls saying they were ‘completely happy’ at home.

Cohort members were nearly as happy with their schoolwork, with boys rating it a 5.3 and girls 5.6 on the seven-point scale. Girls were also slightly happier than boys with the schools they attended.

However, girls were more critical of their appearance than boys, even at age 11. Forty-one per cent of boys were ‘completely happy’ with the way they looked, compared to 31 per cent of girls. However, the same number of boys and girls said they were ‘completely unhappy’ with their appearance – about three per cent for each gender.

“Even in the context of concerns about the pressures on children and their comparative wellbeing, the message coming from this cohort of 10- and 11-year-olds is that, for most of them, the first decade of their lives has not been bad,” said Professor Lucinda Platt, former Principal Investigator of the MCS.

The findings were published in the Economic and Social Research Council’s Britain in 2014 magazine.