British mothers living in the UK's most remote spots should be among the happiest people in the country, a think-tank revealed as the Government prepared to release its first report on public quality of life.
The study showed women were generally more content than men but appeared to experience more anxiety.
It also identified geographical "hotspots" where people could expect to enjoy a better life, singling out the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. Those based in London, Luton and Reading were deemed to have the lowest wellbeing in the UK, the new economics foundation (nef) found.
The think-tank examined recent data from the Office for National Statistics and released its findings as the Government prepared to publish the first set of figures designed to offer an insight into quality of life in Briton.
Prime Minister David Cameron launched the Measuring National Wellbeing programme in November 2010 after deciding that the Government needed to be informed not only on economic progress but also on public wellbeing. This will be measured alongside gross domestic product as a means of determining whether Government policies are making Britain a better place to live.
According to the nef analysis, quality of life is highest among older people and the retired. The study offered an optimistic picture of life in rural Britain which, it concluded, was significantly better than in the UK's urban areas. It also identified greater contentment among older and retired people but revealed something of a mid-life crisis, with those between the ages of 40 and 59 experiencing the lowest quality of living.
It found parents tended to be happier than those without children, as were married people and those who live with a partner.
Saamah Abdallah, senior researcher at the new economics foundation, said: "When it comes to retirement, Britain is doing something right. The high levels of wellbeing reported by the over-60s are not a global phenomenon, in many countries older age groups have the lowest wellbeing.
"But there are also high levels of inequality in wellbeing amongst the elderly in the UK. Of particular concern to policy makers are the low levels of wellbeing most disabled people report. It suggests a need for further research and intervention."
The nef analysis drew on the responses of 160,000 people to the ONS Annual Population Survey.