Bulgarians are among the unhappiest people in Europe, reporting the lowest levels of life satisfaction, according to a survey released on November 29 2012 by Eurofound, the European Foundation for Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, a European Union body.
Declines of more than 20 per cent in levels of optimism and happiness are reported in some countries across the EU and more than a third of people indicate a deterioration in their financial situation over the past five years, according to the survey. These results largely reflect – with some interesting exceptions – the economic reality, with highest optimism levels reported in Denmark, Sweden and lowest levels in Greece, Italy, and Portugal. The social situation in the EU today represents a complex and complicated story, Eurofound said. Since the last survey in 2007, more people who had good income and were in good quality housing are now struggling with unemployment, debts, housing insecurity and access to services.
The survey also highlights that it is harder for many people to make ends meet: seven per cent report “great difficulty” making ends meet, with large differences among EU countries, ranging from 22 per cent in Greece to one per cent in Finland. When asked to whom they would turn to urgently borrow money, most Europeans (70 per cent) would ask a member of their family or a relative for a loan. Another 12 per cent would ask a friend, neighbour or someone else, while eight per cent would turn to a service provider or institution. One out of 10 report they would not be able to ask anybody; this was particularly true among people in the lowest income quartile (15 per cent). Overall, eight per cent of people in the EU have been unable to pay back informal loans on schedule.
Trust in key public institutions, governments and parliaments has fallen over the past five years, with the largest declines obvious in those countries facing the most serious economic difficulties, such as Spain and Greece. Trust in public institutions is highest in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, and Sweden, largely due to an unmatched level of trust in national political institutions in these member states.
The overview report examines a range of issues such as employment, income, housing and living conditions, family, health, work-life balance, life satisfaction and perceived quality of society. Further reports on subjective well-being, social inequalities, quality of society and public services, and trends in quality of life over the three survey waves will follow in 2013.
This report covers the 27 EU member states but a total of 43 636 people were interviewed in 34 countries (the difference being made up of seven candidate or pre-accession countries: Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Turkey). Results from these countries will be published in 2013, Eurofound said.
(Photo: Jason Antony/sxc.hu)