Scotland has topped the UK ‘quality of life’ index, outperforming England according to new research published today.
The Social Progress Index which assesses some key factors such as health, safety, access to education and personal rights found England lagging behind Scotland and Northern Ireland, beating only Wales.
The findings - based on data collected from across 37 regions of the UK - are part of the EU Regional Social Progress Index, a new pan-EU initiative spearheaded by the European Commission and the Social Progress Imperative.
The report said Scotland was judged to be more socially progressive than England, enjoying a better quality of life.
These measures included tolerance, education, environment and personal freedom.
Tolerance was defined by a wide range of indicators including tolerance towards minorities and homosexuals, attitudes towards people with disabilities and the extent of the gender gap.
The education the rating was given after assessing factors including the attainment of degree-level (or equivalent) qualifications, the extent of lifelong learning (beyond formal education) and school enrolment rates. In these both the Scotland and Northern Ireland outperform the English.
The findings uncover a significant gap between Scotland and England on environmental quality, which looks at factors such as air pollution and the degree to which natural habitats are protected. In fact, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all perform better than England on this measure.
English people were also found to enjoy less freedom. This is defined by measures including the extent of young people not in education, employment or training and people’s satisfaction with freedom to make life choices, Scots have the greatest personal freedom, again finishing top among the home nations. Northern Ireland is ranked 2nd on freedom, ahead of England in 3rd and Wales in 4th.
However Scotland fell behind England when it came to indicators such as access to home internet and broadband and personal safety including road deaths.
David Cruickshank, Deloitte Global chairman, said: “To drive sustainable and equitable growth we need to focus on measurements which go beyond GDP. This is not to side line or ignore economic data and policies, but to put a country’s, and in this case a region’s, societal well-being on an equal footing with dominant economic indicators that are commonly used.
“The EU Regional Social Progress Index does this by providing a revealing picture of the economic and social progress of the 28 EU member states. It highlights success wherever it exists and shows that societal improvements can be made at every level of development.
“It also highlights the unique role that business can play as well. Many chief executives understand that doing business better not only improves returns, but helps restore public trust in business and adds value to society.
“Social advancement and economic development are dependent on, and enhance, each other, and this Index provides EU leaders a roadmap that can be used to navigate the pressures and opportunities facing Europe.”