Rural & urban/average statistics – 28 differences – and some discussion points

person writing on notebook
Photo by Lukas on

Summary & Discussion

From the more detailed text that follows later below I’ve drawn out these key points.

Rural populations are older and have a larger:

a) % of people with physical/mental conditions lasting 12 months or more;

b) % of retirees

c) % of retirees whose main income is the state pension;

d) % of people with no qualifications;

e) % of people with £50k or more of savings

f) % of people who own their homes outright

g) % of people with characteristics of potential financial vulnerability,


They also have a smaller

h) % of people with higher qualifications;

i) average income;

j) % of people with no savings/investments;

k) % of people buying with a mortgage/loan or renting;

l) % using credit products to borrow (mainly due to fewer 65+ using credit for such)

m) % using the internet

1st discussion point – Whilst much of the data above might well be explained by the rural population being older, there seems to be some that might not, like “c) % of retirees whose main income is the state pension”.

This suggests that more individuals in rural areas don’t have a workplace pension.  Does this imply that people in rural areas have been working in sectors where a workplace pension was not the norm?  Or is this because of their gender?  Or is it to do with the types of people who have migrated to the country in retirement?

2nd discussion point – The lower % using the internet in m) might also be linked to age, not to mention to the limited availability of superfast broadband in rural areas.  But with the increasing use of the internet as the conduit for providing services, how far should we be helping older people to be more comfortable with using the internet?

The Detail – Introduction

This post is based on a 132 page Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Report – “The financial lives of consumers across the UK, Key findings from the FCA’s Financial Lives Survey 2017” dated June 2018.   I found the report via a tweet from Dr Helen-Ann Hartley – the Bishop of Ripon.  The report uses the results from interviews of some 13,000 over 18 year old consumers across the UK.

The Detail – In rural areas ….


1) 26% (13.3m) of UK adults aged 18 + live (Source = page 17)
2) There are fewer younger and far more older adults compared with the UK average (18-34: 15%, 35-64: 44%, 65+: 42%) (Source = page 20)
3) Two fifths (42%) of adults in rural areas of the UK are aged 65 or over, compared
with just 15% who live in urban areas. The more rural the area, the older the
adult population (Source = page 34)
4) There is significant variation between urban and rural areas with average rural adult age of 58 compared to 45 in urban areas (Source = page 35)
5) The more rural the area, the older the adult population: 66% of adults living in
very remote rural areas are aged 65 and over, compared with just 22% in small
rural towns. (Source = page 36)

Health & Wellbeing & Retirement

6) 32% have one or more physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more (UK: 24%) (Source = page 20)
7) The % of current retirees whose main income is the State Pension is above average (51% vs. 44% for the national average). This proportion is predicted to fall to 35% (vs. 29%) for those aged 45 and over and not retired (Source = page 20)
8) Two fifths (42%) of adults in rural areas are retired, compared with 16% of adults
in urban areas. (the numbers of retirees are quite similar – 5.7 million in urban areas and 5.5 million in the countryside) (Source = page 16)

Employment & Education

9) There are fewer working (46% vs. 62%) and twice as many are retired (42% vs. 23%) (Source = page 20)
10) Two thirds (68%) of adults living in urban areas are in work, compared with under
half (46%) of adults living in rural areas (Source = page 34)
11) Fewer have higher qualifications (35% vs. 41%) and more have no qualifications
(23% vs. 12%) (Source = page 20)
12) A quarter (23%) of adults living in rural areas have no qualifications (9% in urban)
(Source = page 41)

Income, Savings, Assets  & Credit/Debt

13) Average income is lower than the UK average (£41k vs. £46k – in urban areas = £48k), while 11% pay higher/additional rate tax (vs. 14%) (Source = page 20 & 40)
14) A lower proportion of adults have no savings or investments whatsoever (9% vs. 12% national average, ). 42% have savings and investments of less than £10,000 (vs. 49%) (Source = page 20)
15) More adults in rural than urban areas have £50,000 or more in savings (14% vs. 12%).
Adults in villages have the most savings: 17% have £50,000 or more and a further
14% have between £20,000 and £49,000 (Source = page 69)
16) More adults own their home outright (42% vs. 30% national average and 25% in urban areas), (Source = page 20 & 57)
17) Fewer are buying with the help of a mortgage or loan (24% vs. 33%) or are renting (27% vs. 29%). (Source = page 20)
18) Fewer use consumer credit products to borrow compared with the UK average (37% vs. 46% national average and 49% in urban areas): eg 14% credit card, 20% overdraft, and 5% any high-cost loan (Source = page 20 & 62)
19) More adults living in urban areas (81%) than in rural areas (69%) have any credit or loan product. This will partly be due to there being a higher proportion of older adults in rural areas who are less likely to hold these products.   Similar proportions of adults aged 18-34 and 35-64 in urban and rural areas have any credit or loan product, but the difference in results for those 65 and over in urban (73%) and rural (57%) areas
is marked. (Source = page 60)
20) More adults in urban (27%) than rural (20%) areas have been overdrawn in the last 12 months.
21) More adults in urban (20%) than rural areas (14%) have a credit card and do not pay off the balance every or most months. (Source = page 14)
22) Unsecured debt: Excluding SLC loans, adults in rural areas owe £2,510 on average, and adults with debts owe £9,150 on average. This is lower than the UK average (£3,320 and £9,570, respectively) (Source = page 20)
23) The highest proportions of adults with characteristics of potential vulnerability, where results are statistically significant, are found in the North West (55%) and rural areas (54%). There is also a noticeable difference in results between urban (48%) and rural (54%) areas. (Source = page 77)
24) Conversely, areas showing the lowest proportions of adults who are over-indebted
include rural areas (11%, or 1.4 million adults), villages (10%, or 0.7 million adults) and
the East Midlands (10%, or 0.4 million adults). (Source = page 79)


25) Use of the internet is much lower than the UK average. 50% use it daily and 28% never use it (UK average is 67%, with 10% never using, while 74% in urban areas use the internet daily). (Source = page 20 & 44)
26) Of UK adults who never use the internet, 70% (or 3.7 million people) live in rural areas. (Source = page 14)
27) Use of online banking is lower than the UK average (54% vs. 72%) (Source = page 20)
28) Take-up of mobile banking by adults with a day-to-day account in rural areas (23%) is nearly half that of adults in urban areas (45%) and lower than the national average of 40%. (Source = page 20& 14)

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