Royal Mail postcode 40th anniversary: Study reveals what your postcode says about you

To mark 40 years since postcode system was brought to every town in Britain, study shows how we’re all defined by where we live

From your health and wealth to the safety of your community, a study has revealed for the first time that life in the UK really is a postcode lottery.

First conceived as nothing more than a way of sorting and delivering post more efficiently, the postcode has become an accurate indicator of a host of qualities that impact everyday life.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the allocation of the codes to every town in Britain, the Royal Mail has rifled through data from the census, the Office for National Statistics and local council information to establish just what your postcode says about you.

Their findings throw up a few clear surprises – despite all that has been reported about the quality of air and hazards on the roads in London, the capital contributes the five most healthy postcodes in the whole of England.

If like those subjected to Ukip’s latest set of provocative campaign posters you are willing to move in order to find better employment opportunities, you may want to head out to the West Country – the lowest unemployment rate in the whole of the UK is found in the BA and TA postcodes of Somerton and Frome.

And while people of a certain generation will tell you that they used to be able to leave their front doors unlocked and have no trouble, that still seems to be the case for those in TD12, rural Northumberland, which sees the fewest reported incidents of crime per 1,000 population.

Steve Rooney, head of the Royal Mail’s Address Management Unit, said: “Royal Mail’s study provides a fascinating insight into the characteristics of communities the length and breadth of the UK through the lens of the postcode.

“The invention of the postcode revolutionised the way post is sorted and delivered. As it has evolved, the postcodes have also revolutionised the way companies do business. The postcode is now commonly used by people in their everyday activities, whether ordering an item online or planning a route on a Satnav system.”

There are currently around 1.8 million postcodes across the UK, with each covering an average of 17 residential addresses.

On a correctly-addressed item of post, automatic optical recognition robots read the postcode and convert it into a series of dots which are then read by sorting machines. Royal Mail said the system was 20 times faster than manual sorting.

Yet the postcode has become so much more than that. It tells you, for example, how many cars someone is likely to have, whether or not they are more likely to be married and even how much personal debt they are in.

The youngest postcode in the UK is B4 in Birmingham, where the average age is extraordinarily just 23 years old. The oldest, meanwhile, is IP15 in Suffolk at just over 55.

The greatest proportion of married couples exists in BH18, East Dorset, at almost 65 per cent, followed closely by Worcester (WR7) and the Isles of Scilly (TR22).

Postcode even gives a good indication of the general fertility rate, it seems – in Barking (RM5) it is almost double that of the cathedral city of Canterbury (CT1).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, postcodes in London came up highest for cost-of-living indicators, with EC4A and EC1A top for outstanding mortgages and unsecured personal loans respectively.

The Isles of Scilly (TR24) has the fewest cars, at just one for every 10 households. At the other end of the scale, if you live in WR7, Worcester, expect every home to have two each.

As well as carrying out its extensive study of postcode demographics, the Royal Mail will be marking the anniversary by issuing a special postmark which will be applied to all letters this week. Don’t all rush to the Post Office at once – think of the queues.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform