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Feel-good findings reveal Edinburgh’s bounce-back to better health

Something to smile about - Edinburgh by Numbers 2023

Record levels of Edinburgh residents are feeling positive and say they’re satisfied with life in the Capital.

According to the city’s 17th annual Edinburgh by Numbers - a statistical snapshot of the Capital collated by the Council - feelings of ‘worthwhile’ are the highest they have been for a decade.

Echoing the findings of an Edinburgh Partnership survey last year, which revealed 93% of residents are happy with life in the Capital, improved levels of resident happiness and life satisfaction have been recorded by Edinburgh by Numbers despite a small increase in anxiety levels.

Alongside personal wellness scores, the health of Edinburgh’s environment and economy is also on the up - with the data confirming Scotland’s Capital has the highest percentage of residents who consider the climate emergency to be ‘urgent’.

It comes as greenhouse emissions drop by 37.9% in Edinburgh as part of concerted efforts towards net zero by 2030, with more than half of city journeys under two miles now being made by walking or cycling, according to the findings. Public transport satisfaction rates have also hit 86%, which is significantly above the Scottish average. 

Pointing to the resilience and growth of the Capital’s economy, Edinburgh by Numbers data suggests job opportunities in the city remain some of the best in the UK and that unemployment rates have more than halved from 6.3% to 2.6% in less than 10 years. In continued signs of Edinburgh’s post-covid rebound, Edinburgh’s economy is listed in the data as the UK’s most productive economy outside of London, at 32.7% higher regional GVA per person than Glasgow.

Visitor numbers are also starting to return to pre-covid levels with a noticeable increase in visits from October to December, making Edinburgh second in the UK for overnight visits after London. This complements the aims of Edinburgh’s which involves  targeted activity to promote the spread of tourism across the seasons.

The data suggests there are over 170,000 students across all education levels but overall, Edinburgh’s population is aging. And while poverty levels are lower than national averages, tackling poverty and reducing inequality remains a key Council priority and a slight increase in relative poverty has been recorded following the cost-of-living crisis.

Council Leader Cammy Day said:

This year’s Edinburgh by Numbers paints a feel-good picture of a successful, growing Capital city where people really enjoy living and working.

It’s great to see so much evidence of people living well, feeling happy and caring about climate change here in Edinburgh. The data points to good news for business, for jobs and for tourism and I think it’s fair to say that Edinburgh’s economic - and environmental - outlook is healthy.

There has been a joint effort in recent years to work together as one city on everything from poverty to climate change, supporting the Festivals and our parks, ensuring Edinburgh remains a special, welcoming and unique place to live.

Of course, with this good news comes the other side of the same coin: the pressure of complex population changes on our core services and on the people who live and work here. The recovery of tourism provides a welcome boost to our economy, but this means greater use and upkeep of facilities and isn’t always accessible for everyone. Likewise, a thriving economy does not mean that every resident is able to benefit equally, and we face a growing housing emergency and pressure supporting our people and our planet.

That’s why we’re set on becoming the first city to introduce a visitor levy when the legislation comes into force. It’s also why the Council budget we set in February prioritises poverty, climate, and key services for residents. I’m pleased to see the Edinburgh by Numbers findings demonstrate just how vital this is.

We’ve still got work to do, but we’ll continue to do everything in our power to reach our ambitious goals to eradicate poverty and become net-zero by 2030. We need the city with us though, and the success depends on everyone’s participation and will be the result of collective efforts.

Sarah Boyd, Managing Director of Lothian Buses, said:

It’s really encouraging to read that satisfaction with public transport in Edinburgh sits at an average of 86%, which is significantly above the Scottish average of 58%.

Our teams work incredibly hard to deliver sustainable, affordable, and reliable bus services for all, so it’s particularly heartening to read that overall satisfaction is so high.

We are continuing to grow our network following a strong performance throughout 2023 which saw Lothian deliver for more than 110 million customers  - an increase of 17% on the previous year.

Published: April 16th 2024