European Quality of Life Surveys (EQLS)

The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) is a monitoring tool to capture quality of life in multiple dimensions. Since its launch in 2003, the EQLS has developed into a valuable set of indicators which complements traditional indicators of economic growth and living standards such as GDP or income. The EQLS indicators are as clear and appealing as GDP, however they are more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of progress and therefore are easily integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate at EU and national levels in the European Union.

Survey objectives

The EQLS examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general.

The main objectives of the survey are to:

  • identify groups at risk and issues of concern as well as of progress
  • monitor trends by providing homogeneous indicators on these issues
  • contribute to European policy development on living conditions

How is the survey carried out?

The EQLS is a representative, questionnaire-based interview survey that covers the adult population (18+ years).

Focus of the survey

The EQLS covers life domains that correspond to a wide range of policy areas and programmes carried out by European institutions. Many of those policies address a range of issues affecting quality of life, quality of society and quality of public services. These include employment, income, education, housing, family, health and work–life balance. The survey also looks at subjective topics, such as people’s levels of happiness, how satisfied they are with their lives and how they perceive the quality of their societies and public services. This multi-dimensional approach to quality of life has remained robust through the survey editions, even if topics and indicators have expanded over time to reflect emerging policy themes. By running the survey regularly, it has also become possible to track key trends in the quality of people's lives over time.

Scope of survey

In view of the prospective European enlargements and interest from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, the geographical coverage of the EQLS has expanded over time:

  • EQLS 2016: 33 countries, including the EU Member States, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey
  • EQLS 2012: 34 countries, including the EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo
  • EQLS 2007: 31 countries, including the EU Member States, Croatia, North Macedonia, Turkey and Norway
  • EQLS 2003: 28 countries, including the EU Member States and Turkey

In addition, a number of questions from the EQLS 2007–2008 were asked as part of a Eurobarometer survey in 2009 which allowed for the study of Trends in quality of life in the EU: 2003-2009.