EQLS 2003: Main findings

The European quality of life survey (EQLS) was carried out by the Foundation in 28 countries in 2003. It covers the former EU15, the 10 new Member States (NMS) and the three candidate countries (CC3). A number of reports on the findings of the EQLS 2003 have been published.

Main findings

The basic findings confirm the widespread perception of general economic and social divides between the former EU15 and the acceding and candidate countries. The differences between the 10 new Member States and the three candidate countries in areas such as housing and education are also underlined.

  • Living standards are markedly lower in the NMS than in the former EU15.
  • NMS and CC3 citizens are generally less satisfied with their quality of life than those in the EU15.
  • Housing conditions are worse in the NMS and the CC3 than in the EU15.
  • Workers in the NMS and candidate countries report worse working conditions.
  • Citizens of the NMS and the CC3 report poorer health and less satisfaction with health services.

The results also provide an insight into areas which are often overlooked – areas where the new Member States may boast an advantage and where there is a common pattern across the enlarged Europe.

  • Two thirds of citizens across 28 countries are optimistic about the future.
  • Families and friends provide the main social support for up to 95% of citizens across the EU25/CC3.
  • Home ownership is more common in the NMS/CC3 (75%) than in the EU15 (60%).
  • Female employment rates are higher in the NMS and CC3.
  • Rates of completion of secondary education are higher in the NMS than in the EU15.
  • Rates of completion of third-level education are similar across the EU25.

Policy pointers

Social cohesion:

  • Reducing social inequalities by promoting equal opportunities, combating poverty and social exclusion ranks high on the EU's social policy list of priorities.
  • There is a need to improve living conditions of disadvantaged groups and for policies to support better housing and environmental conditions.

Reconciling work and family life:

  • The NMS could apply more flexible working time regulations.
  • Increasing labour force Participation rate and improving working conditions should also help.
  • Women could be given a wider scope to develop both family and career plans.
  • Men could be allowed to reduce formal working time in order to take on more family responsibilities.
  • The effectiveness and efficiency of public services and public management in the NMS must be improved.