Impacts of the crisis’
Declines of quality of life in all EU Member States, alarming levels in some, survey says
Declines of over 20% in levels of optimism and happiness are reported in some countries across the EU and over a third of people indicate a deterioration in their financial situation over the past five years. These results, from Eurofound’s third European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) published today, largely reflect – with some interesting exceptions – the economic reality, with highest optimism levels reported in Denmark, Sweden and lowest levels in Greece, Italy, and Portugal. Trust in key public institutions, governments and parliaments has also fallen significantly across the European Union, with the largest declines obvious in those countries facing the most serious economic difficulties, such as Spain and Greece.
The survey results paint a comprehensive picture of life experienced by Europe’s citizens over the last five years of the economic crisis. Since the last survey in 2007, more people who had good income and were in good quality housing are now struggling with unemployment, debts, housing insecurity and access to services. The survey also highlights that it is harder for many people to make ends meet: 7% report ‘great difficulty’ making ends meet, with large differences between Member States, ranging from 22% in Greece to 1% in Finland.
When asked to whom they would turn to urgently borrow money, most Europeans (70%) would ask a member of their family or a relative for a loan. Another 12% would ask a friend, neighbour or someone else, while 8% would turn to a service provider or institution. One out of ten (10%) report they would not be able to ask anybody; this was particularly true among people in the lowest income quartile (15%). Overall, 8% of people in the EU have been unable to pay back informal loans according to schedule.
In the EQLS, European citizens rate their life satisfaction at 7.1 on average on a scale from 1 to 10. Denmark still tops the scores in terms of life satisfaction and happiness while Bulgaria and Hungary report the lowest life satisfaction scores. There is no difference in life satisfaction levels between men and women, but those aged between 50-64 show lowest levels of satisfaction, as do people unable to work, the unemployed and single parents. Throughout, the role of the family remains important as a pillar of support.
People rating their health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ have significantly higher life satisfaction and happiness than the average, and subjective well-being declines with worsening health status. Most Europeans say their health is good or very good (64%). Nevertheless, 9% report having bad or very bad health, with a higher proportion for women (10%) than for men (8%).
The social situation in the European Union today represents a complex and complicated story, and the European Quality of Life Survey offers an analysis of the multidimensional nature of quality of life.
Access the 3rd European Quality of Life Survey here //bit.ly/pr3eqls
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Eurofound provides social partners, governments and EU decision makers with relevant, timely and unbiased research results so that the lives of European citizens can be improved.
The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) is an established tool for documenting and analysing quality of life in the EU. It explores issues pertinent to the lives of European citizens, such as employment, income, education, housing, family, health, work–life balance, life satisfaction and perceived quality of society. The survey measures resources and living conditions through objective and descriptive indicators but also consistently includes the subjective dimension ‘where people’s feelings are treated as paramount’.
Fieldwork for the 3rd European Quality of Life Survey in the 27 Member States took place from September 2011 to February 2012, with most interviews being completed in the last quarter of 2011.