Edinburgh scores badly in survey on happiness

Edinburgh had a poor result in the survey of residents. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Edinburgh had a poor result in the survey of residents. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE city may be branded “Incredinburgh” but the residents don’t seem to be feeling it, with the Capital scoring badly on a wellbeing survey of people’s happiness levels.

While areas such as Orkney and Shetland came out top in the UK-wide happiness and life satisfaction survey, the city of Edinburgh made the top ten list of areas where the fewest people reported a high sense of wellbeing.

The New Economics Foundation asked approximately 160,000 people four different questions aimed at rating their overall level of happiness across a range of dimensions.

Those surveyed were asked: “Overall, how happy are you with your life nowadays?”, “Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?”, “Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?” and “Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?”

Topping the charts were the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, with 41 per cent. Their score has given rise to the idea of a “Scotland effect” – one tied to strong feelings of community and proximity to areas of natural beauty. By contrast, Edinburgh came joint fourth on the list of areas with the smallest proportion of the population scoring well on each question, with only 23 per cent.

One reason the foundation cited for the “Scotland effect” is that more people north of the Border are employed by the public sector.

Public sector workers were shown to have a greater sense of happiness and life satisfaction overall than those in the private sector, with local government said to provide a higher sense of wellbeing than central government.

However, this could be less true in the Capital, with the city council having suffered a number of blows in recent years, including setbacks with the ongoing tram project, the property repairs scandal and the court case over equal pay for workers.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said: “The result surprises me as Edinburgh always does very well in other surveys, and all the indications we have say the city is continuing to grow.

“People wouldn’t be moving here and sending their kids to school here if they didn’t like being here.”

He added: “The only thing I can think that may be affecting people, in the city centre in particular would be all the roadworks connected to the tram project. But that should all be sorted in the near future.”

Edinburgh tram critic John Carson is certainly one of those feeling the sad factor. “Right now Edinburgh is a shocking place to live,” he said. “I’m not surprised by the results of the survey at all. Have you walked round the streets recently?

“The place is like an unrevitalised Communist bloc country before the wall came down.”

Are you happy with your life in Edinburgh?

Alun Stein, 39, Montgomery Street: “I wouldn’t say I’m entirely happy, no. In the current economic climate there are a lot of uncertainties.”

Stephanie Wint, 56, Dumbiedykes: “I lean more towards happiness, but not completely as I’m awaiting surgery. The sooner I have a normal life, the better.”

Brogan Beattie, 18, Darroch Court: “Yes, I’m very happy. I’ve got good friends, a boyfriend, and a lovely family, and I’m studying primary teaching, which is what I really want to do.”

Jonathan Morley, 34, Meadowbank: “Yes, I’m happy because I’m in love.”

Paul McCafferty, 38, Meadowbank: “Yes, I’m happy. I’ve just gotten a job I love after being made redundant.”

Jules Derevycka, 37, Holyrood: “Yes. I have good friends, a nice family and a job that I enjoy.”