Scottish wellbeing levels compared
Scotland’s levels of wellbeing are on a par with parts of Finland, Bremen in Germany, Quebec and Idaho in the USA, according to latest statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Based on nine topics central to quality of life, the OECD’s picture of Scotland allows it to be compared with 362 other regions. These factors included education, environment, safety, housing and others important to wellbeing.
Scoring each topic out of 10, Scotland does well in areas such as safety (8.7), environment (7.9), access to services (9.3) and education (8.4). However, it comes out worse in civic engagement (4.7), health (4.8) and income (5.4).
The OECD report, How’s Life in Your Region, also reveals big differences in overall wellbeing among the regions by examining areas ranging from air quality and life expectancy to per-capita income, employment and internet access.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said: “National standards of wellbeing are not felt equally by people living in different regions. Smarter public investment, especially in cities, and reforms of outdated local government structures would help to address this.”
A second report, the Regional Outlook 2014 document, found living standards continue to diverge within many economically advanced countries, as poorer regions struggle to catch up with richer ones. Half of the OECD countries have seen the income gap between their best-off and worst-off regions widen since the 2008 crisis, according to new research.
This report shows in 10 OECD countries, over 40 per cent of the national rise in unemployment since the economic crisis was concentrated in one region.
Some of the starkest income inequalities show up in big cities. The OECD recommends better management of urban areas, where two in three people live, as a way to improve prosperity and reduce inequalities. It says well-run cities can improve efficiency and productivity within their boundaries, and in surrounding areas, by cutting commuting times, making streets safer, reducing air pollution and improving access to public services.