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.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
people
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Today's Liverpool Echo back page
football
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
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

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Accounts Assistant - Sales Ledger, Sage Line 50 - St Albans

£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?