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The fine line between money and happiness

The analysis, which looked at average salaries and life satisfaction ratings for 35-50 year olds from the Cabinet Office’s Wellbeing and Policy Report, revealed a group of & lsquo;happy outliers’ - people on low salaries who are happier than others who earn significantly more.

Fitness instructors, who take home an average of &pound10,378 per year, are actually happier than lawyers who earn an average of &pound75,399.

Dental nurses, who earn an average of &pound15,024, were found to be happier than dentists who make an average of &pound53,567.

School secretaries are actually happier than actuaries, even though they earn an average of &pound15,614 and &pound61,584 per year respectively.

The survey also revealed that the clergy is the happiest outlying sector, followed closely by secretarial, education, agriculture, and administration.

An interactive visualisation of this data can be found in & lsquo;Salary vs. Happiness’ http://www.michaelpage.co.uk/minisite/salary-vs-happiness/, which plots the salary and happiness of more than 260 occupations.  

Data Tables

Happy Outliers

Job Title

Sector

Average Salary, &pound

Happiness score

Happiness Percentile Rank

Salary Percentile Rank

Gap

Fitness instructors

Sports

10378

7.718

0.95

0.04

0.91

Dental nurses

Healthcare

15024

7.699

0.93

0.13

0.8

School secretaries

Secretarial

15614

7.711

0.94

0.14

0.8

Company secretaries

Secretarial

18176

7.93

0.99

0.23

0.76

Teaching assistants

Education

11796

7.587

0.82

0.07

0.75

Childminders

Service Occupations

12949

7.584

0.82

0.11

0.71

Farm workers

Agriculture

17925

7.692

0.92

0.22

0.7

Playworkers

Education

7400

7.489

0.72

0.02

0.7

Sports coaches, instructors & officials

Sports

11762

7.507

0.74

0.07

0.67

Clergy

Clergy

20568

8.291

1

0.34

0.66

Happiest Outlying Sectors

Rank

Sector

Weighted Average Salary

Weighed Happiness Score

Happiness Percentile Rank

Salary Percentile Rank

Gap

1

Clergy

20568

8.291

1.00

0.26

0.74

2

Secretarial

16384

7.494087566

0.77

0.13

0.65

3

Education

24714

7.592098465

0.94

0.32

0.61

4

Agriculture

19276

7.3982

0.55

0.23

0.32

5

Administration

17794

7.32598023

0.42

0.16

0.26

6

Healthcare

26677

7.403526229

0.58

0.36

0.23

7

Arts

29433

7.433085106

0.65

0.48

0.16

8

Sports

15531

7.222842105

0.23

0.10

0.13

9

Retail

14547

7.101646784

0.13

0.03

0.10

10

Public Sector

27497

7.333262027

0.45

0.39

0.07

About the data and calculations

Salary data is from the 2013 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, and & lsquo;happiness’ is the mean life satisfaction rating (a score out of 10) taken from the Annual Population Survey 2011-2013. Life satisfaction ratings are grouped as follows: 0 to 4, (low) 5 to 6, (medium) 7 to 8, (high) 9 to 10, (very high).

Happy outliers were determined by comparing the percentile ranks of both salary and happiness for each occupation. Those with the greatest differences in these two ranks (high on happiness, but low on salary) were considered outliers.

The happiest outlying sectors were calculated in a similar fashion to the happy outliers, but average happiness and average salaries were weighted by the number of people employed in each sector.

Michael Page, part of PageGroup, is one of the world’s best-known and well-respected professional recruitment consultancies. Established more than 38 years ago in the United Kingdom, we now span 154 offices in 35 countries. We are a leading provider of permanent, contract and temporary recruitment for clerical professionals, qualified professionals and executives.

Through organic growth we have become a FTSE 250 company with more than 5,578 employees globally. We operate a consultative approach to professional recruitment combining local know-how with global expertise, to find the best fit between client and candidate.

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