Worst place in the UK for women to live revealed by study

Research shows female residents of one London borough report lowest levels of happiness, life satisfaction and feelings that their life is worthwhile

May Bulman
Tuesday 12 September 2017 11:20 BST
10 worst places for women to live in the UK

Islington is the worst place for women to live in the UK, followed closely by Blackpool, according to a new study.

Research shows that female residents of the London borough of Islington report the lowest levels of happiness, life satisfaction and feelings that their life is worthwhile, along with the highest levels of anxiety.

Analysis by leading independent social research institute NatCen, conducted for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, shows that the borough also performed worst for environmental quality, housing affordability and safety.

It ranked second to last on the environmental quality domain, with particularly high pollution levels and limited access to green space.

Housing in Islington was among the least affordable in Britain, with the median house priced at over 16 times the local median income. The borough also ranked 369th out of 380 for crime, with 122 reported offences per 1,000 people.

The study indicates that the best place to live is East Dunbartonshire in Scotland, which scored well across a range of core domains, coming 11th on education and 16th in the quality of the local environment.

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The area, which is situated just north-west of Glasgow, ranked 40th on overall personal wellbeing and came 46th in terms of income, with the median hourly wage among women equalling £15.07 per hour (ranking 41st).

However, despite its high levels of education, environmental quality, wellbeing and income, East Dunbartonshire did not excel in every domain.

With median house prices costing nearly eight times the local median income, it ranked 192nd out of 380 in housing affordability and 159th on life expectancy at birth, with an average life expectancy of 83.5 years among women in the area.

When broken down into age groups, the results were different. Women under 30 rated Kingston upon Hull the worst local authority, with high rates of unemployment, as well as performing poorly on environment quality, life expectancy and safety.

Young women meanwhile ranked West Oxfordshire as the best place to live, with low unemployment rates and high rates of safety, culture, personal wellbeing and education.

Nottingham ranked lowest for middle aged women (30-65), scoring badly on school quality – a key indicator for this group – as well as employment opportunities and local demographics. East Dunbartonshire got the highest rating among this age group.

Islington ranked lowest for women over 65, rating poorly across the age specific indicators as well as several of the core indicators, while South Oxfordshire was ranked the best place to live for elderly women.

To compile the list, NatCen analysed a broad variety of indicators related to women’s quality of life to form a core index, covering eight areas including income, housing affordability, personal wellbeing, education, environment and culture.

The index was used to rank all 380 British Local Authorities from a “best” to “worst” list, based on existing data in the UK. A series of age-specific measures were also used to identify the best place to be a younger, middle-aged or older woman.

Responding to the findings, Karen Dalziel, Woman’s Hour editor, said: “The Best Place to be a Woman analysis has given us a powerful tool to understand the factors affecting the quality of a woman’s life in Great Britain, and a fascinating insight into the way a woman’s needs, experiences and expectations change during her life.

“But how important are low house prices, good schools and availability of jobs? Can access to green fields or cinemas compensate for high crime rates? Or is having family and friends nearby what women value most?

“We’ll now investigate to what extent our selected key indicators have really shaped women’s choices about where they live.”

Woman’s Hour will feature Best Place to be a Woman – which will explore the results of the study – from 11-13 September and over the coming weeks.

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