The Western Isles of Scotland may not have a lot of jobs and regarded more as a holiday destination than a place to work but it is the happiest place in the UK, a new study has found.

The research from the Office of National Statistics also found that it is people aged 60 to 79 who are the happiest so moving to the islands of Scotland to retire seems to be the best bet for a happy life.

Indeed Scotland holds a lot of attractions with the survey of more than 300,000 people living across the UK finding that four of the happiest places in the country are in Scotland with three of them islands.


The three year study asked people to rate their happiness on a scale of one to 10. After the Western Isles Orkney came second, followed by the Highlands of Scotland, Shetland and then Cheshire in the north west of England.

Liverpool was named as the least happy place followed by Wolverhampton in the Midlands which was, however, also the least anxious with six in 10 people living in the city saying that they experienced low levels of anxiety.

Also at the bottom were north Manchester, Corby, Bradford, Islington and Hackney, both in London, and Knowsley.

When it comes to age the study found that middle aged people are the least happy age group in the UK and suggests that this is due to the burden of having to look after their children and elderly parents.

But happiness levels soon improve when you move into retirement age with those aged 60 to 79 the happiest age group. Even people aged over 90 are happier than those who are middle aged.

Teenagers are also relatively happy with similar levels of happiness and life satisfaction as pensioners and this could be because they have more time to spend on activities which promote their well-being.

"Evidence shows that people are having children later. Therefore another possible reason for lower scores for the middle age groups could result from the burden caused by having to care for both parents and children at the same time," the report said.

People aged 40 to 59 were considerably more anxious than other groups, with those aged 50 to 54 the most anxious group, while those over 90 were the least anxious. ONS director of measuring national well-being Glenn Everett said the data showed that, overall, wellbeing falls after people reach the age of 75.

The study also said the fall in ratings of personal wellbeing amongst the very oldest age groups might result from a range of personal circumstances such as poor health, living alone and feelings of loneliness.