A prosperity divide and neither rich nor poor seem happy

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Photo: © Acmanley | Dreamstime.com

The people of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden are among the wealthiest on average in the UK, but money is not buying them happiness, as they are more miserable than many across the country.

These findings emerge in an index that looks at the combination of wealth and life satisfaction to indicate levels of prosperity. It suggests that 6 London boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London) are the most prosperous in the country. But 4 others (Bexley, Greenwich, Brent and Croydon) are in the bottom 10 of 170 areas assessed.

The high prosperity scores for London boroughs are based largely on wealth not well-being. The Legatum Institute, a think tank that says that it is focused on promoting prosperity, put the index together. It used GDP per capita as a measure of wealth and the life satisfaction data collected by the Office for National Statistics.

Residents in Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and the City of London, enjoy an average income of £133,000. 15 of the top 20 areas in the UK for average earnings, including Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Haringey and Islington, are in London. But the spread of wealth is not uniform across the capital and some boroughs come at the lower end of the table. Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Enfield and Barking and Dagenham have average earnings of £14,300.

What is common to all London boroughs however is the low level of life satisfaction. The happiest place in the UK according the ONS measure is the Outer Hebrides. Out of 170 areas the only London borough to squeeze into the top 50 is Bromley at 49 in the rankings.

Wealthy Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea are down in the mid 80s and only 6 other boroughs (Ealing, Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Richmond and Hounslow) make it into the top 100.

While residents of Camden and the City of London come top for earnings they are in the bottom 10 when it comes to happiness, along with Croydon and Brent. Haringey and Islington folk also seem to be miserable – 11th from bottom in the life satisfaction rankings.

Source data

See also

Well-being and wealth – how South West London soars ahead of the rest

Pay rates underline gap between rich and poor boroughs

Welcome to the city of the super rich