THEY say money can’t buy happiness, but that’s not borne out by the evidence, according to a new survey which rated East Renfrewshire as Scotland’s most cheerful place to live.

The results of the Royal Mail’s first ‘happiness index’ assessed council areas on a range of measures including average earnings, rates of crime, average life expectancy and the level of carbon emissions.

However, with East Dunbartonshire and Aberdeenshire coming second and third, the authors admitted East Renfrewshire secured its top ranking “with help from its high placing in the earnings index”.

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The council area, home to around 95,000 people, includes well-to-do areas such as Giffnock, Clarkston and Newton Mearns – although neighbouring Barrhead includes some of the most deprived areas of the country.

East Dunbartonshire, the authors said, achieved its rating as the second happiest place in Scotland thanks to low levels of crime and due to having good access to health services. However it, too, is one of Scotland’s most affluent local authority areas.

Aberdeenshire scored highly for access to health services. Fourth was Stirling with the authors suggesting this might be because of its “comparatively good level of earnings relative to other local authorities” while the Scottish Borders, which boasts the second lowest level of crime in Scotland, was listed fifth.

The Highland Council are was only eighth overall, using the Index created for Royal Mail, but its residents seem pretty content with their lot – the region had the joint highest score for self-reported well-being in the whole of the UK.

The Royal Mail index took into account eight measures of happiness: the degree to which people reported feeling good about their own personal well-being; the length of time a resident can expect to live on average, earnings, the degree of inequality between rich and poor in an area, the rate of carbon emissions , crime, levels of deprivation and ease of access to health services.

East Renfrewshire, which counts under-fire Scotland boss Alex McLeish as an honorary freeman, was previously voted the second best place in Britain to raise a family. Ina 2007 Reader’s Digest poll it was pipped to the top spot – by East Dunbartonshire.

Royal Mail claimed the delivery service was well placed to identify regional differences, as it delivers mail to around 30 million addresses across the UK.

A spokesperson said the study aimed to identify the areas of the UK “sparking the most joy”.

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He added: “For people across the UK looking to live in or visit the happiest places, there are plenty to choose from.”

Although only in eighth place, the Highland Council area had the joint highest score for reported well-being in the whole of the UK, while Shetland Islands’ stood out for its low crime rate and low deprivation levels.

Winchester, in Hampshire, was found to be the happiest place to live in the UK and England in the Royal Mail index, again due to high earnings, as well as a high reported sense of well-being from residents and low levels of deprivation.

Monmouthshire topped the list in Wales, while in Northern Ireland, Lisburn and Castlereagh is happiest, according to the index.

Just days ago, as a country UK was placed a lowly 15th in the UN’s World Happiness Report, published earlier this month in an exercise which named Finland as home to the world’s happiest people for the second year running, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. The figures were revealed as part of the International Day of H appiness

But within the UK, East Renfrewshire regularly features in lists of the most desirable places to live.

In 2015 it was named 10th in the whole UK in a survey based on 26 different quality of life measures, and in 2017 it was rated the second best place to be a woman in the UK in research for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)

It boasts three of the top five schools for exam results, according to the Herald’s unofficial league tables published last week and in January was revealed to have average broadband speeds which are twice as fast as those in other areas such as the Scottish Borders, Moray and Argyll and Bute.

East Renfrewshire Council Leader Tony Buchanan welcomed the findings. He said: “We are committed to making East Renfrewshire a desirable place for people to live, work and visit – and this latest data shows that we’re delivering across a wide range of measures.

“It’s fantastic to come out on top in this happiness index and we will continue to work hard to deliver improvements right across the area which will make our residents’ lives even more enjoyable.”

Royal Mail has previously compiled lists of the country’s ‘best’ postcodes.In 2017, eight out of the top ten were located in either East Renfrewshire or East Dunbartonshire.