Salary vs Happiness – Is the average UK salary a marker of happiness?
Across the UK, salaries can vary significantly between roles, organisations, industry sectors and regions, along with the different types of jobs available within each of these areas. This maze of employment creates different pay structures, so the average salaries from these will vary accordingly and will be different also.
Average UK Salary
Recruitment firm Michael Page have worked out the average UK salary by region based on the advertised salary in job adverts and at placement stage, and these averages are indicative of the mean average salary in each region. The salary you can expect in any region will depend on personal experience, job role and the industry you work in. But which regions are cashing the largest pay cheques and which are lagging behind? Is London really the highest earning region, who comes out on top between the East and West Midlands, and how does Scotland measure up against their neighbours to the south?
According to the study, London came out on top with an average salary across all roles advertised and placed of £44,184 and of course while salaries are high, cost of living is also higher than the rest of the UK. The South East of England, encompassing Kent, Surrey and the Home Counties is not far behind at £39, 251, with the East of England, combining Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, third at £41, 533. The economic pull of London has a profound effect on the neighbouring counties and prosperity there can, in part, be attributed to the close proximity to the capital.
The East Midlands has the fastest growing economy outside of London and the South East, and has an average salary of £38, 212. There is still some catching up to do though as the West Midlands sits at £37,638. Of all the regions in the UK, Wales currently sits bottom of the pile with an average salary of £36, 278. This is offset however by cheaper cost of living. Scotland meanwhile benefits from having two major, economically strong cities among a relatively low populations and has an average of £36,009.
Does a high salary equate to happiness?
Are high paying regions more likely to provide work satisfaction? Is the pursuit of workplace happiness best achieved by seeking out the cities and regions which pay the best, or is it about finding a job you love?
The relationship between money and happiness isn’t as straightforward as you might think. A partner study to the average salary analysis looked into data from the cabinet Office’s Wellbeing and Policy report and the relationship between salary vs happiness.
The analysis, which looked at average salaries and life satisfaction ratings for 35-50 year olds, revealed a group of ‘happy outliers’ – people on low salaries who are happier than others who earn significantly more.
- Fitness instructors, who take home an average of £10,378 per year, are actually happier than lawyers who earn an average of £75,399.
- Dental nurses, who earn an average of £15,024, were found to be happier than dentists who make an average of £53,567.
- School secretaries are actually happier than actuaries, even though they earn an average of £15,614 and £61,584 per year respectively.
- The survey also revealed that the clergy is the happiest outlying sector, followed closely by secretarial, education, agriculture, and administration.
Salary isn’t the be-all and end-all of your well-being. Happiness at work it seems is influenced by the work that you do and how much satisfaction you derive from it.