07/05/2004

Germans rate health and social services among highest in Europe

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
shows in its European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) that German citizens rank
the quality of their health services and social services higher than the EU
average. People in Germany also rank the quality of local environment highly.
Only 5% of respondents in Germany complain about noise, air pollution, lack of
access to recreational or green areas and water quality in the immediate
neighbourhood, which compares to 19% of people across the former EU15.

Germans are, however, less optimistic about the future than other citizens in
the former EU15, the new Member States and the three candidate countries,
according to a survey on quality of life in the enlarged Europe, conducted by
the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
People in Germany rank overall life satisfaction and happiness on a par with
the average EU15.

The Foundation's research on quality of life in Europe, based on 26,000
face-to-face interviews across 28 European countries, sheds light on the living
conditions, subjective well-being and individuals' perceptions of their
society. The results of this European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) provide a
unique portrait of quality of life in the enlarged Europe.

'In order to foster cohesion in a larger and more diversified European Union,
policymakers and civil society actors need first of all to know not only how
people live, but also how they perceive their situation: how individual quality
of life is measured,' says Willy Buschak, acting Director of the Foundation.
'Our survey provides a framework for measuring perceptions of well-being using
a multi-dimensional approach covering a number of domains, ranging from
economic resources, health and health care, employment and working conditions,
to community life and social participation, and housing.'


Improving health status a crucial task in the new Member States

Being in good health is an indispensable precondition for enjoying a high
quality of life. In the new Member States and the candidate countries, the
self-rated health status is on average worse than in the EU15. Compared to the
latter, poor health status is reported 2.5 times more often by the citizens
living in the new Member States, and two times more in the candidate countries,
respectively. About one third of the population in the new Member States report
having a long-standing illness, compared to one fifth in the former EU15.
People living in post-communist countries report health problems more
frequently than those living in Cyprus, Malta or Turkey. These findings for
individual health correspond with widespread dissatisfaction with the quality
of the health services and with reported difficulties in access to medical care
in post-communist countries.

NMS citizens less satisfied with quality of life, but equally optimistic

The report found that subjective well-being is lower in the new Member States
than in the former EU15, confirming gaps found in objective living conditions,
especially economic resources and living standards, working conditions and
health. In most EU15 countries, the least satisfied groups are still more
satisfied than the most satisfied groups in the new Member States and the
candidate countries. Mainly, but not solely, this reflects the huge difference
in living standards between these two groups of countries. Material living
conditions are of paramount importance for citizens' subjective well-being, but
aspects of 'loving' and 'being' also impact on how satisfied people are with
their lives.

More house owners in the new Member States but worse housing conditions

One in five households in the new Member States and one in three in the
candidate countries lack an indoor flushing toilet or have housing problems
such as rot in windows, damp and leaks, the survey reveals. Fewer than 10% of
households in the former EU15 face such problems. The housing conditions
confirm the general picture of lower living standards in the new Member States
and three candidate countries. By and large, living space is smaller, homes are
less comfortable, and the neighbourhood less secure.

However, home ownership is much more common in the new Member States and the
candidate countries. Nearly 75% live in their own dwelling compared to 60% in
the EU15.

Strong family ties compensate for economic strain and weak institutions

In all 28 countries, families and friends are shown to be a crucial factor in
providing social integration and support. In both groups of countries, a huge
majority of the population ­ around 80-95% ­ can count on help from relatives,
friends or neighbours when personal problems arise; and in all countries,
people rely primarily on family members. In general, support from family
members is found to be more important in the new Member States and the
candidate countries than in the EU15. Strong family ties in the new Member
States and the candidate countries are also indicated by a higher frequency of
contacts with other family members. Here, around 85% have frequent contact with
parents or children, compared to 72% in the EU15.

Further Information:


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions