Quality of life and public services

Quality of life is a broad concept covering a number of different dimensions. It encompasses both objective factors such as health, work status and living conditions, as well as the subjective assessments of an individual’s life situation and perception of quality of society. The accessibility and quality of public services are important determinants of quality of life. These services, including health and care services, education and housing, underpin social protection, cohesion and inclusion and are also closely linked to levels of trust in government and institutions.

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In this context, today’s policymakers face critical challenges, including the impact of the financial crisis, an ageing demographic, internal EU mobility and migration. Over the last four decades Eurofound has researched and analysed many of these issues and has gathered data from across Europe on a range of dimensions of quality of life – living standards, health, subjective well-being, family, social exclusion care, and work–life balance, housing and living environment, public services and quality of society.

Eurofound's work

Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) has gathered harmonised and fully comparable data on the living conditions and quality of life of Europeans and people in candidate countries since 2003.  The four waves of the survey to date provide comprehensive information on the evolution of quality of life of various socioeconomic groups. Analysis of the third wave (2012) provides an overview on the impacts of the crisis at that time, as well as knowledge of trends since 2003, and additional insights into particular aspects (subjective well-being or social inequalities) and issues facing particular groups (young people or workers over 50).

The fourth wave of the EQLS, carried out in 2016, will build on this work and generate additional knowledge on longer term trends.

Separate research projects, as well as analyses from the EQLS have been the basis of Eurofound reports on a range of related issues, including early childhood education and careinadequate housing, and how partial retirement may help extend working lives.