Scots families are becoming happier and more content
SCOTS are becoming more satisfied with their lives and happier in their communities, despite rising debts, falling home ownership and fewer having access to a car, a new survey reveals.
Women are happier than men, and antisocial behaviour is at its lowest point since devolution.
The Scottish Government's comprehensive Scottish Household Survey (SHS) also shows satisfaction with local schools and healthcare is on the rise, smoking is at an all-time low, internet access is increasing and households are continuing to recycle in high numbers.
However, the survey gives a snapshot of life for Scots in the year 2009-10. Since then, the full effects of the downturn have hit hard, household bills have risen, unemployment - particularly in the public sector - has soared, sectarianism has split many communities, and riots and looting have rocked English cities.
But the survey states: "The majority of adults are generally satisfied with their life as a whole nowadays."
Respondents were asked to rank their life satisfaction, with 0 denoting extremely dissatisfied and 10 meaning extremely satisfied.
The survey found that 16 per cent of adults are extremely satisfied with their life, while the highest grouping was for those rating their level of satisfaction at eight (29 per cent).
Women were more likely to say they are extremely satisfied with life than men (17 per cent and 14 per cent respectively), according to the survey. It also show that 55 per cent of respondents rated their neighbourhood as a very good place to live, compared with 49 per cent when the survey began in 1999.
Meanwhile, just 11 per cent of respondents said vandalism, graffiti and damage to property were common in their neighbourhood, against nearly 18 per cent in 1999.
• What the survey says: The six key elements that make up our lives
Mike Pretious, a lecturer in marketing, retailing and consumer studies at Queen Margaret University, said: "It may be that people are saying they're happier in Scotland than they would be elsewhere in the Great Britain.
"There are some things up here that apparently better than the rest of the UK, like student tuition fees and the absence of prescription charges.
"Although this wouldn't have been in the survey, the fact that we didn't have any problems a couple of weeks ago in terms of the rioting in Scotland is quite interesting."
But the survey also found more than a quarter of Scottish households (28 per cent) have no savings at all, and that 12 per cent of people are not able to manage their finances well.
Lucy McTernan, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: "Many of the figures in this report paint a very bleak picture.
"The cost of living is going up all the time, but incomes are falling, as people lose their jobs, or face cuts in their wages or benefit payments. So many Scottish families are being hit by this 'double whammy', which is destroying their finances."The survey also shows that home ownership has fallen, private lets have reached a peak, while the number of people living in social housing is up again after a ten-year decline.
The SHS is designed to discover the composition, characteristics and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals.
SNP MSP John Finnie, who sits on Holyrood's justice committee, said: "These results are a testament to the government's continued commitment to building a better, safer Scotland."
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