Lifestyle

Saturday 23 August 2014

We're happier with our lot than most Europeans

IRISH people are happier with their lot than most Europeans, although we're more likely to be murdered or be out of work long-term.

A new attempt to compare quality of life across the EU has found life satisfaction is above average in Ireland and we live longer, are better educated and have cleaner air and less noise pollution than most.

However, on the downside, long-term unemployment is twice as high here as in the rest of Europe, while our homicide rate is above average at 1.2 killings per 100,000 people.

Eurostat marked the United Nations International Day of Happiness today by publishing a study into quality of life measures in the European Union.

It found that despite all the dark TV crime series they come up with, the Danes are the happiest while other Scandinavian nations Finland and Sweden are also up there among the most satisfied with life.

Irish people are also more content than most and the high level of life satisfaction they report has not fallen much since a previous survey carried out in 2007 before the country's financial collapse.

Eurostat said this was generally the case throughout Europe as overall life satisfaction was only "moderately influenced by present circumstances".

Older people – those over 65 – are by far the happiest in Ireland, followed by those aged 18-24, while those in the squeezed middle are far less satisfied with life.

In terms of relative wealth, the value of all goods and services produced here, or GDP per capita, is almost 30pc higher than the average in Europe at €32,900 per person, putting us ahead even of economic powerhouses such as Germany and the Netherlands – though this is closely linked to multinationals availing of low tax rates here.

Irish women still earn 14pc less per hour than Irish men, although this gender pay gap is slightly less pronounced than the average 16pc gulf across Europe. Our life expectancy is now 80.9 years, which is slightly better than most, and we're less likely to leave school early than most Europeans, which Eurostat noted is important for reducing poverty and social exclusion.

Air quality is also significantly better than most countries, even in cities, while we are much less likely to suffer from stress-inducing noise pollution.

Eurostat said that, in general, countries in the southern EU had higher GDP and the longest life expectancy, while countries in central and eastern Europe had lower life expectancy and lower GDP.

Irish Independent

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