Scotland

Scotland tops home nations life study

Eildon Hills, Melrose Image copyright Gordon Melrose

A European study has suggested that Scotland has the best quality of life among the home nations.

The findings - based on data from 37 regions of the UK - considered factors such as health, safety, access to education and personal rights.

Scotland came top of the UK index - scoring 74 out of a possible 100. Wales came bottom with 72 points.

The study which features 50 separate indicators, was compiled as part of the EU Regional Social Progress Index.

The initiative is a new EU project spearheaded by the European Commission and the Social Progress Imperative, a Brussels-based think tank.

Regions' overall scores and scores for the different aspects of social progress data were graded on a scale of 1 - 100.

Outperformed on tolerance

Michael Green, the think tank's executive director told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that Scotland outperformed other areas of the UK when it came to education and the environment and was more socially progressive.

He said: "The standard way of comparing countries is often about measuring how rich they are.

"What we've done is we've left money to one side and instead looked at all the things that make up a good society from education to health, to tolerance, to the environment - all those different factors bundled together. And of the four nations of the United Kingdom, Scotland comes out number one."

Mr Green said that on issues around tolerance, Scotland outperformed all other areas of the UK.

He added: "We measure this for all of the countries of the world and what we find is that tolerance is a really hard problem for countries both rich and poor.

"So if Scotland is doing well on this maybe there are lessons for other countries all around the world."

Mr Green said despite its good performance, there were significant challenges for Scottish society.

Life expectancy

He said that, like the rest of the UK, obesity was a really big problem and said the other "striking" issue was that Scotland did not perform well on the number of people dying before the age of 65.

"These are very worrying indicators where Scotland does not do well."

People in south western Scotland had the lowest life expectancy in the UK at just 78 years, with those in eastern Scotland not far behind on 79.5 years.

Scots were also the worst performing nation in the UK for road safety.

The study found that English people enjoyed less freedom to make informed life choices.

However, south of the border people consistently had better access to the internet and broadband, with London topping the UK index.

Across the continent, the highest performing region for quality of life was Upper Norrland in Sweden, which scored 82 out of 100 while the lowest scoring region, South East Bulgaria, managed just 39.72.

Other indicators in the study included infant mortality, overcrowding, murder rates and air quality.

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