Living conditions and quality of life

3 Март 2021

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

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Addressing stakeholder priorities

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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.

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Blogs on this topic

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Key policy messages

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

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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.
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Current and ongoing research

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In 2021, Eurofound will continue to carry out work on its pan-European surveys, focusing on measuring the impact of COVID-19 on living conditions. Building on the two previous rounds of the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey, a third round is planned for 2021.

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In 2021, Eurofound will continue to carry out work on its pan-European surveys, focusing on measuring the impact of COVID-19 on living conditions. Building on the two previous rounds of the Living, working and COVID-19 e-survey, a third round is planned for 2021.

Eurofound will publish findings on youth and the initial impact of COVID-19 on the well-being and employment prospects of young people and NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training), as well as explore aspects of fairness and the future in relation to optimism and perceptions of the quality of society. This research builds on previous work on NEETS and draws on data from the COVID-19 e-survey.

Particular attention will be paid to the living conditions of older people and their needs for formal and informal care services, as well as their well-being, risk of social exclusion and income situation during the pandemic and its immediate aftermath. Eurofound will explore the disparities in availability and use of care services and will also carry out a review of selected examples of distance-spanning solutions for health and care services.

In relation to the gender gaps opened up by COVID-19, Eurofound will further investigate the distribution of paid and unpaid work and of care and domestic responsibilities among men and women during the crisis.

A range of aspects regarding the pandemic’s impact and changes in public services, such as employment support services, health and care services, social protection and education, will be explored: for example, use and delivery, providers’ preparedness, use of digital tools, consolidation and funding, as well as the satisfaction and experiences of service users.

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

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  • Publications (618)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (8)

Ongoing work

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

 

Other ongoing work:

  • Mapping developments in advisory for household debt in EU countries as well as identifying barriers to access these services to combat poverty and assessing take-up
  • Analysing differences and inequalities in access to social services of general interest in the EU and assessing the nature and extent of convergence/divergence

 

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