Living conditions and quality of life

28 March 2023

Living conditions and quality of life is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 period.Read more

Living conditions and quality of life is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 period. Eurofound will continue to map and analyse key aspects related to the improvement of living conditions of people in Europe, including information on their perception of quality of life and society. As the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis has deeply affected people’s lives, Eurofound will further investigate the impact of this crisis on EU citizens at different life stages.

During 2021–2024, Eurofound’s research will provide an important insight into the challenges and prospects in the area of living conditions and quality of life in the EU and the role played by various initiatives aimed at alleviating the social hardship of various groups of citizens. Of particular interest are the implications for older people and care needs, youth and their social inclusion and social mobility, and the varying consequences of the crisis on men and women.

Public services across the EU played a major role in addressing the COVID-19 crisis while facing significant challenges and they will be assessed in greater detail, focusing on issues such as quality, access and affordability. As previous findings have shown, the crisis has had disproportionate effects on certain groups according to age, care responsibilities and work-life balance, and Eurofound will analyse this further.

In coordination with the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Eurofound intends to research the multidimensional gender gap by investigating the impact on men and women of the COVID-19 crisis in terms of employment participation, material living conditions and well-being – in order to identify the differences and assess its effect on gender gaps.

 

Quality of public services has been key in shaping trust in institutions in contemporary Europe and will be crucial in getting through the current and future challenges. Quality services is also an area for innovation, especially in moving to digital, more environment-friendly services and being ready for risks, like the pandemic, in the future.

— Tadas Leončikas, Senior Research Manager, Social Policies Unit

Read less

Recent updates

Conference on social inclusion and access to adequate housing

The Swedish Presidency of the EU is organising a conference on the different aspects of social inclusion and access to...

Citizens need clarity on Europe’s challenges

Europe faces a winter of uncertainty and potentially discontent. The cost of living is rising rapidly and the spectre...

Risk of depression runs high as Europe and its neighbours struggle with cost-of-living crisis

Two-thirds of respondents from the EU and 10 neighbouring countries reported difficulties making ends meet in the fifth...

EU context

Top

Addressing stakeholder priorities

Top

Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action addressing the challenges and opportunities for the EU and national levels in the area of living conditions and quality of life.Read more

Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action addressing the challenges and opportunities for the EU and national levels in the area of living conditions and quality of life. In particular, it will monitor the impact of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis by providing knowledge on status, trends, risks, as well as ways to improve living conditions in the EU. Eurofound will focus on identifying and analysing pressing issues for the most vulnerable groups, specifically older citizens and young people. Eurofound will also inform policymakers by producing evidence on trends and drivers in relation to the delivery of public services, also linking in, for example, with the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Agency’s work plan is aligned with the European Commission’s political guidelines over the next four years, directly feeding into a number of key policy areas aimed at creating a strong social Europe. In particular, the research will support policy initiatives and activities linked with the implementation of the European Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025 , the Youth Guarantee , the Child Guarantee and the European Semester and its country-specific recommendations.

Read less

Key policy messages

Top

Image of Living conditions and quality of life in the EU infographic - November 2021
Infographic 2022

The main findings emerging from Eurofound research serve as input for policymakers to address some of the key issues in this area.

  • The perception of tensions in society has the most detrimental impact on trust in institutions, while perceived quality of public services is a key driver for higher trust in institutions.
  • More long-term care provision – with greater flexibility – is needed. Home care and assistance should be made more available, especially in those EU Member States where income is lowest.
  • Prompt access to primary healthcare, social care and long-term care can trigger early intervention and monitoring of changing needs and prevent the escalation of long-term care problems.
  • Mental health issues are increasing for young people, though it is not clear whether this is due to higher incidence or better awareness and diagnosis. Mental health is closely related to other youth issues and can both be an outcome of inequalities and a source of inequality itself. Risk factors for mental health issues include disability and long-term illness, family problems, relationship problems with peers and heavy social media use.
  • Although levels of trust and social cohesion recovered overall in the EU since the financial crisis, the onset of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on well-being in countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • Young people are emerging as one of lockdown’s biggest losers: along with those out of work, young people report the lowest levels of well-being, despite some improvement since the onset of the pandemic. While life satisfaction and optimism increased since April 2020, young people continue to feel excluded from society and remain at greatest risk of depression, showing that restrictions during lockdown affect them more.
  • Measures to mitigate the mental health risks of the unemployed and young people in the wake of COVID-19 will be critical in any further waves of the Coronavirus. Providing targeted support to allow those seeking work to get back on track and cope with the impact of the pandemic, as well as ensuring that young people can fully participate in society, must be part of ongoing policy measures.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has eroded levels of optimism and affected the work–life balance of women more than men. Repairing this damage will be critical to ensure women do not pay disproportionately for the pandemic.
  • Maintaining citizens’ trust in national and European institutions must remain a key focus in times of crisis, as compliance with measures to control COVID-19 greatly depends on levels of trust in institutions and scientific advice. The increase in levels of institutional trust reported by respondents who benefited from support measures also sends a clear message to national governments and the EU.
Read less

Current and ongoing research

Top

In 2023, Eurofound will continue to monitor trends in the area of living conditions and quality of life, focusing on measuring the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of the war in Ukraine, as well as rising energy prices and living costs.Read more

In 2023, Eurofound will continue to monitor trends in the area of living conditions and quality of life, focusing on measuring the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of the war in Ukraine, as well as rising energy prices and living costs. Building on the five rounds of the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey over the period 2020–2022, as well as on new data in 2023, the Agency will investigate the impact of these challenges on the living conditions of Europeans and the role played by initiatives introduced to alleviate social hardship among various groups.

Eurofound’s work on studying intergenerational dynamics over time using data from its e-survey will be completed in 2023. Research on affordable housing and the use and delivery of public services during the pandemic will also be finalised. 

New research will map population groups not covered by social protection in each EU Member State, including those in receipt of very low social protection benefits. This work will focus on unemployment and minimum income benefits and will identify the policy changes in EU social protection systems and discuss the implications for welfare systems in the post-COVID-19 era. 

Building on previous work on young people, new research will assess the long-term impact of the pandemic on this group, looking into changes in the social situation of young people – particularly young women – as well as their quality of life, mental health and future prospects.

Other new research will explore EU citizens’ rights and opportunities to live independently. It will analyse the situation faced by various vulnerable groups and provide an overview of preventive and supportive measures in the EU Member States, with a particular focus on the experiences of people at risk of living in institutional settings and their transition towards independence. 

A new online survey in spring 2023 will continue to measure some of the most important aspects of quality of life, as measured by the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey, with an additional module on the situation of young people and on the cost of living. The survey will be carried out in over 40 countries, in cooperation with the European Training Foundation.

The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.

Read less
  • Publications (667)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (7)

Ongoing work

Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.