The key to happiness for residents of the Borders and north Northumberland could be as simple as their geography.
Figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics have linked large rural / market towns to the highest levels of “personal well-being” and life satisfaction.
The data, published as part of the ONS Measuring National Well-being Programme, revealed that “personal well-being improved in the UK between 2011/12 and 2012/13.
“Ratings for life satisfaction and feeling that the things we do in life are worthwhile increased on average, whilst anxiety levels fell.”
Analysis of the data reveals that large market towns possess all the factors leading to the highest levels of well-being and happiness.
National charity Action for Market Towns (AMT) attributes the relative happiness of the cross-border region to the strong community links and rural landscape. Chris Wade, chief executive of AMT Towns Alive, commented: “Market towns’ community spirit has been born out of doing things for themselves and decades of self reliance. Many have faced the challenging economic climate with community-led ideas that involve and engage their residents, helping them to thrive, and to be great places to live and to work.”
The value of the local community and market towns has split opinion. Reacting on Facebook, some have dismissed Berwick’s diminished market compared to previous years.
Northumberland’s residents matched the national average when it came to ‘Life Satisfaction’. They graded themselves at 7.5 out of 10 when asked: “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?”
The Borders’ responses, meanwhile, placed it in the top band of polled areas, with people rating their satisfaction at 7.8 on the same scale.
Northumberland scored slightly higher than the national average when asked: “Overall, how worthwhile are the things that you do in your life?”
Borderers were slightly more likely to feel their life was “worthwhile” than their Northumbrian neighbours.
Again, when answering the question “How happy did you feel yesterday?” responses on the Scottish side of the border were slightly higher. Both areas scored higher than the national average.