EQLS 2012 - Reports and policy briefs: Tracking quality of life in Europe

The third wave of the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) records many aspects of the quality of life in Europe in 2011–12. These include social, economic, environmental and work-related elements, as well as subjective well-being and the quality of society. Together they offer a multidimensional picture of quality of life relevant to policymaking within the EU.

Initial analysis of this wave of the EQLS focused on the impacts of the crisis on the quality of life in Europe and the repercussions for various countries and groups within society. This study gave rise to the 2012 overview report Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis.

Since, a new series of reports has been published, providing further analysis of important dimensions of quality of life in Europe. In addition, policy briefs based on the EQLS highlight topics of particular significance.

The report Subjective well-being addresses the impact of the crisis on how Europeans perceive the quality of their lives. The crisis has affected specific groups and countries more than others, with disruption to different aspects of well-being. Well-being has fallen in many EU countries, remaining highest in northern European countries. Groups with particularly low well-being include people limited by disability or illness and unemployed people.



The Quality of society and public services report explores how Europeans perceive the quality of their communities and societal relations and their public services. It looks at such aspects of society as trust in institutions and other people, perceived tensions between social groups, attitudes towards migrants and the effects of the economic crisis on social inclusion and social cohesion.



The report Social inequalities examines the distribution of freedoms and opportunities among individuals and population subgroups in Europe. It reports on social inequalities in four critical areas of life: health, standard of living, productive and valued activities, and individual, family and social life.



The Quality of life in Europe: Trends 2003‑2012 report makes use of the three waves of the EQLS in 2003, 2007 and 2011 (with some additional research in 2012) to describe the longer term evolution of quality of life in Europe. While the quality of family and social life remained high and quite stable over the period, satisfaction with health declined, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.



Families in the economic crisis describes the changing quality of life across the EU for different types of families with children and compares their living standards and social situation. Children are more at risk of poverty or social exclusion than the overall population in a large majority of EU countries; hence, it is important to understand how the crisis has affected the households in which these children grow up.



As the European Union grows in size and diversity, it becomes increasingly challenging to summarise the impact of state actions on the lives of citizens. One approach to this complexity is to group countries based on characteristics relevant to quality of life. Developing a country typology for analysing quality of life in Europe suggests how the 34 countries that were surveyed in 2012 could be grouped into eight clusters, which can be collapsed into five or three groups depending on the requirements of the analysis. The country typology is based on multidimensional analysis of quality of life.


Also based on the 3rd EQLS, reports on enlargement countries have been published:

The report Trends in quality of life - Croatia compares recent changes and trends in Croatia during this period with those in the rest of the EU, focusing on several key aspects of quality of life: standard of living, housing, employment, work–life balance, health and healthcare and quality of public institutions. It also charts people’s perceptions regarding social tensions, social exclusion, life satisfaction and happiness.



This report Trends in quality of life - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: 2007–2012 shows the positive progress made in the country over the period 2007–2012 in several aspects of life quality. Major improvements relate to living conditions, health, quality of public services, well-being and satisfaction levels in general. Nevertheless, there is still evidence of high material deprivation, low housing quality and low quality of the environment.



The report Trends in quality of life – Turkey: 2003–2012 aims to capture changes and developments in the quality of life of Turkish people, measured at three periods over the past decade: 2003, 2007 and 2012. The report examines the key improvements in quality of life over this period and investigates whether all social groups benefited equally. It explores the impact of recent policy changes and charts new expectations that may be emerging in Turkey.



Quality of life in enlargement countries - Introduction provides background information to the profiles on quality of life in seven EU enlargement countries that are published as individual papers – Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It identifies the countries that participated in the survey, explains survey characteristics, and provides definitions of indicators reported in individual country papers.



Alongside these in-depth reports, the following EQLS policy briefs have been produced on specific aspects of quality of life and the policy issues relating to them:

  • Social cohesion and well-being in the EU examines how significant social cohesion is for the well-being of people in Europe. It considers, in particular, how income inequalities are related to social cohesion and well-being.
  • Quality of life in urban and rural Europe focuses on differences in the quality of life between urban and rural Europe. Since 2007, there has been a decrease in the number of people living in the open countryside and an increase in those living in medium to large towns.
  • Work preferences after 50 focuses on work preferences of people aged 50 and over. In 2012, there were 190 million people aged 50 years and over in the EU, up from 178 million five years previously, in 2007.
  • Social situation of young people in Europe examines the quality of life of young people (18 - 29 years old), focusing on dimensions such as living arrangements, social exclusion, relationships and sources of support, as well as participation in society and social/cultural activities;
  • Household over-indebtedness in the EU: The role of informal debts looks at issues around borrowing money from relatives and friends, in the context of overall debt problems in Europe;
  • Political trust and civic engagement during the crisis examines the challenges for the EU of political disenchantment and the need to let citizens know that their voice counts. It also explores the connection between trust and active participation, such as volunteering.

The EQLS Survey Mapping Tool provides full access to the data behind all of these publications. It allows users to browse, make comparisons and visualise the information, as well as downloading graphics based on it in low and high-resolution versions.


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