We’re happy and we know it, say islanders
People in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are among the most satisfied with life, according to the government’s first national study into well-being.
The three island groups had the lowest percentages of folk with low or very low life satisfaction ratings (14.8 per cent) and the highest average rating for life satisfaction (8.1 out of 10) in the survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), followed by people in Rutland, Anglesey, Wiltshire and West Berkshire.
By contrast, people in Blackpool, County Durham, Swansea, Blaenau Gwent and North Ayrshire were among the least happy.
The ONS also found that people who are married, have jobs and own homes are the most satisfied, while teenagers and those who are in the traditional retirement age category are happiest.
The results generated interest in why people in the island groups were so relatively content.
According to Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell, who spoke on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, the absence of recession in the isles and low crime may have something to do with it.
“On a day like today with glorious sunshine it’s very easy to be happy, but Shetland is a great place to live, work and do business in,” he said. “We’ve always known that so it’s no surprise to us.
“To a large extent we’ve been insulated from the worst of the recession. The public sector is suffering the same kind of squeeze as everywhere else, but the private sector is picking that up. We have virtually full employment, very, very high qualities of education and very high qualities of housing. A very buoyant housing market that’s still reasonably priced.
“And the other thing that we’ve got here is a society that’s very safe. We have very low levels of crime and when crime does occur, seven times out of 10 the crimes are cleared up. It’s a very happy and successful society to live in. The culture here is very much one of looking out for each other.
“There are downsides to everything, and the weather is one of those, and we enjoy the sunshine when it comes. At this time of the year we’ve got virtually wall to wall sunshine.
“The winter can be difficult, but it’s in the winter time that society rallies together and people look out for each other. The fire festival in January tends to brighten things up for us.”