Reports & policy briefs: tracking quality of life in Europe
The third wave of the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) records many aspects of the quality of life in Europe in 2011–12. These include social, economic, environmental and work-related elements, as well as subjective well-being and the quality of society. Together they offer a multidimensional picture of quality of life relevant to policymaking within the EU.
Initial analysis of this wave of the EQLS focused on the impacts of the crisis on the quality of life in Europe and the repercussions for various countries and groups within society. This study gave rise to the 2012 overview report Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis.
Since, a new series of reports has been published, providing further analysis of important dimensions of quality of life in Europe. In addition, three policy briefs based on the EQLS highlight topics of particular significance.
The report Subjective well-being addresses the impact of the crisis on how Europeans perceive the quality of their lives. The crisis has affected specific groups and countries more than others, with disruption to different aspects of well-being. Well-being has fallen in many EU countries, remaining highest in northern European countries. Groups with particularly low well-being include people limited by disability or illness and unemployed people.
The Quality of society and public services report explores how Europeans perceive the quality of their communities and societal relations and their public services. It looks at such aspects of society as trust in institutions and other people, perceived tensions between social groups, attitudes towards migrants and the effects of the economic crisis on social inclusion and social cohesion.
The report Social inequalities examines the distribution of freedoms and opportunities among individuals and population subgroups in Europe. It reports on social inequalities in four critical areas of life: health, standard of living, productive and valued activities, and individual, family and social life.
The Quality of life in Europe: Trends 2003‑2012 report makes use of the three waves of the EQLS in 2003, 2007 and 2011 (with some additional research in 2012) to describe the longer term evolution of quality of life in Europe. While the quality of family and social life remained high and quite stable over the period, satisfaction with health declined, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.
Families in the economic crisis describes the changing quality of life across the EU for different types of families with children and compares their living standards and social situation. Children are more at risk of poverty or social exclusion than the overall population in a large majority of EU countries; hence, it is important to understand how the crisis has affected the households in which these children grow up.
Alongside these in-depth reports, four EQLS policy briefs have been produced on specific aspects of quality of life and the policy issues relating to them.
- Work preferences after 50 focuses on work preferences of people aged 50 and over. In 2012, there were 190 million people aged 50 years and over in the EU, up from 178 million five years previously, in 2007.
- Social situation of young people in Europe examines the quality of life of young people (18 - 29 years old), focusing on dimensions such as living arrangements, social exclusion, relationships and sources of support, as well as participation in society and social/cultural activities;
- Household over-indebtedness in the EU: The role of informal debts looks at issues around borrowing money from relatives and friends, in the context of overall debt problems in Europe;
- Political trust and civic engagement during the crisis examines the challenges for the EU of political disenchantment and the need to let citizens know that their voice counts. It also explores the connection between trust and active participation, such as volunteering.
Four other EQLS policy briefs will be published this year on the following topics: Reconciliation of work and care, Attitudes to migrants, Social tensions and Urban-rural divide.
The EQLS Survey Mapping Tool provides full access to the data behind all of these publications. It allows users to browse, make comparisons and visualise the information, as well as downloading graphics based on it in low and high-resolution versions.