Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England

Michael A. Shields, Stephen Wheatley Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

163 Citations (Scopus)


A fundamental focus of Government concern is to enhance well-being. Recently, policy makers in the UK and elsewhere have recognized the importance of the community and society to the well-being of the nation as a whole. We explore the extent to which economic and social factors influence the psychological well-being of individuals and their perceptions of the social support that they receive, using Health Survey for England data. We employ a random-effects ordered probit modelling approach and find that unobserved intrahousehold characteristics help to explain the variation in our dependent variables, particularly for co-resident females. Our results indicate that individuals with acute and chronic physical illness, who are female, unemployed or inactive in the labour market and who live in poor households or areas of multiple deprivation report lower levels of psychological well-being. Reduced perceptions of social support are associated with being male, single or post marriage, from an ethnic minority, having low educational attainment and living in a poor household, but are not statistically related to area deprivation measures. These findings may help to inform the contemporary policy debate surrounding the promotion of individual well-being and community, through the alleviation of social exclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-537
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A-Statistics in Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Deprivation
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Intrahousehold effects
  • Multilevel models
  • Ordered responses
  • Perceived social support
  • Psychological well-being
  • Social exclusion
  • Social norms
  • Unemployment

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