European Quality of Life Survey 2012

Fieldwork for the third European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) took place from the end of September 2011 to early February 2012 in the 27 European Union Member States. The report of the findings, Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis, was published and launched in November 2012.


Main findings

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 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. The social situation in the European Union today represents a complex and complicated story. 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.

Trust in key public institutions, governments and parliaments has fallen over the past five years, with the largest declines obvious in those countries facing the most serious economic difficulties, such as Spain and Greece. Trust in public institutions is highest in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and Sweden, largely due to an unmatched level of trust in national political institutions in these Member States.

The overview report examines a range of issues such as employment, income, housing and living conditions, family, health, work-life balance, life satisfaction and perceived quality of society. See also further research in the shapes of research reports and policy briefs.


This report covers the 27 EU Member States but a total of 43,636 people were interviewed in 34 countries - the difference being made up of seven enlargement countries. The findings of the analysis on quality of life in enlargement countries are now available, first in an Introduction to the study and also in individual country reports: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Eurofound has worked closely with its contractor GfK  in Belgium to ensure that the highest quality standards were met when preparing and implementing the third EQLS.

The dataset for the third EQLS is available to the public through the UK Data Service.