Are rural residents happier? A quantitative analysis of subjective wellbeing in Scotland

Alana Gilbert, Kathryn Colley, Deborah Roberts

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    55 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper uses ordered logit models to test for evidence of systematically higher levels of subjective wellbeing in rural Scotland, differentiating between remote rural and accessible rural areas. Data are drawn from the 2008/9 wave of the BHPS covering a sample of almost 2150 Scottish residents. Two alternative quantitative measures of subjective wellbeing are used in the analysis, one based on life satisfaction, the other on mental wellbeing. The results find statistically significant evidence of higher life satisfaction in remote (but not accessible) rural Scotland after having controlled for the individual characteristics of respondents. In contrast, the mental wellbeing measure is not found to vary across rural-urban space. The paper concludes by suggesting several areas for further analysis emphasising how such research could support Scottish Government policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-45
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Rural Studies
    Early online date17 Jan 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) were supplied by the UK Data Archive. The main British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) is conducted by the ESRC UK Longitudinal Studies Centre (ULSC), together with the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex. Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Archive bear any responsibility for the analysis or interpretations presented here.

    This research is funded by Scottish Government's Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) under Theme 8 ‘Vibrant Rural Communities’ of the Food, Land and People Programme (2011–2016).

    The authors would like to thank Adekunle Ibiyemi, Bill Slee and Jonathan Hopkins for their helpful input at earlier stages of the research.


    • Subjective wellbeing
    • Life satisfaction
    • Mental wellbeing
    • Accessible rural areas
    • Remote rural areas
    • Scotland


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