Why the gender “anxiety gap” in the UK is getting worse in 2018

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Susan Devaney
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The gender anxiety gap in the UK is widening, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. 

From pay disparity to societal norms, using the term ‘gender gap’ to describe the gender-based differences between the sexes is nothing new. But as women continue to challenge the status quo in 2018, every aspect of our lives is now being considered.

Which is why recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that we should be discussing gender-based differences when it comes to anxiety. By questioning people over the age of 16, the study found that there’s a significant gender “anxiety gap”.

The researchers found that the average anxiety score for men in the year ending September 2017 was 2.75; while for women it was 3.07 (out of 10). In comparison, in the year ending 2011 – 2012, the scores for men and women were 2.94 and 3.16 respectively – meaning the disparity between the two has increased in half a decade. Notably, both genders are less anxious but the gap between the two has widened.

It’s not all bad news though. Women reported higher worthwhile, life satisfaction and happiness ratings than men. Women gave an average score of 7.72 for life satisfaction, 7.99 for worthwhile and 7.54 for overall happiness. In comparison, men gave an average score of 7.67, 7.76 and 7.5, respectively.

When the ONS started calculating happiness in 2011, the average score was 7.29, but last year it had risen to 7.52. While the happiness levels in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales remain the same since last year, general personal wellbeing in England has increased. 

“We have seen average ratings of personal wellbeing slightly improving over the years,” said Silvia Manclossi from the Office for National Statistics.

“Factors such as people’s social connections and health status play a key part in personal wellbeing. However, some economic factors are also important, so perhaps this trend over time is not surprising as the country came out of the economic downturn.”

Manclossi also noted that moving forward, the team will be delving further into the inequalities between the social groups.

“We have also seen inequalities emerging within the data, and we will be exploring these further looking at factors that may contribute to some groups of society having lower personal wellbeing.”

Images: Unsplash / iStock 


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.