What influences Londoners’ wellbeing, and what can help?

This report identifies the factors which have the biggest influence on Londoners’ wellbeing, and the policy interventions which can boost wellbeing for all Londoners.

How do Londoners feel about their lives, and what could policymakers do to improve wellbeing in the capital? 

Using data from Understanding Society, a survey which asks people questions about their lives and tracks their responses over multiple years, we were able to find out. 
The survey’s sample of people with varying characteristics, such as their age or employment status, allowed us to see how different Londoners answered questions including how relaxed they currently feel, and how optimistic they are for the future.

Our findings reveal that there are four key factors which have the biggest influence on wellbeing in London: 

  • how satisfied people are with their health   
  • how satisfied people are with their leisure time   
  • whether they’re employed, and if so how much freedom they have about how they do their work   
  • the level of social cohesion in their neighbourhood.

Our research therefore makes clear that wellbeing levels are not consistent across all Londoners. Importantly, the four factors identified are all areas that policy makers can target to improve Londoners’ lives. 

We’re calling for London’s leaders to make improved wellbeing an explicit goal of public policy. Read our report to find out how this can be achieved.

Key findings  

  • Four factors have a strong influence on Londoners’ wellbeing:  how satisfied people are with their health and with their leisure time, whether they work and how much control they have over their work, and the level of social cohesion in their neighbourhood.  
  • Policy makers can make changes that would improve people’s wellbeing, from ensuring workers have adequate notice for shifts to funding local authorities to deliver local services such as older people’s day centres and children’s centres.
  • Levels of wellbeing are not consistent across all Londoners. Some groups of Londoners are more likely to have higher or lower wellbeing than others. Older people tend to have higher wellbeing than younger people. 
  • Support to increase wellbeing must be targeted at the right people, in the right ways.  For instance, the association between wellbeing and satisfaction with health is stronger for Londoners with a disability or long-term condition than for others.   

This report was produced as a partnership between The Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London and Centre for London. Its findings were presented at an event on 9 November 2023.

Research Partner

This research was produced in partnership with