Friday 25 May 2018

The Celtic Tiger is back - in terms of happiness, at least

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Irish people's life-satisfaction rating is back to Celtic Tiger levels, a new EU survey has revealed.

When it comes to self-rated scores for health and mental wellbeing we are now tops in Europe.

However, the nation is taking less exercise than in the austerity years and our work-life balance is suffering in the economic recovery.

Our ratings for the health service, childcare, public transport and social housing are also below the EU average.

The self-reported insights have emerged in findings of the 2016 European Quality of Life questionnaire, carried out by Eurofound, the EU agency for the improvement of living and working conditions.

We rate our level of life satisfaction at 7.7 out of 10, compared to 7.4 in 2011 when the recession was still biting. We scored 7.6 in 2007 and 7.7 in 2003.

Some 47pc of us describe our health as "very good", compared to the EU average of 24pc.

A mental health wellbeing index has generated a grade of 70, versus the EU average of 64.

Eight in 10 of us are optimistic about our future, but Sweden tops the league in this area.

On the plus side the percentage of people who are finding it difficult to make ends meet has fallen from 43pc in 2011, but it is still significant at 27pc.

Confident

However, the downside of the recovery is that we are less active - just 55pc of us are taking part in physical exercise at least once a week, compared to 62pc six years ago.

Less of us feel "free to decide how to live my life" - down to 26pc from 28pc. This compares to 58pc of super-confident Danes.

Some 56pc of us are coming home from work too tired to do household jobs, versus 55pc in 2011.

And 27pc have difficulty fulfilling family responsibilities because of time spent in their jobs compared to 25pc six years ago.

On the other hand, 17pc are having problems concentrating at work because of life responsibilities - up from 14pc during the recession and 12pc during the economic boom.

Overall across the EU there has been progress in quality of life from 2011 to 2016.

The people of Croatia seem have to have the best work-life balance in Europe, but our neighbours in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Austria are finding it even more difficult than us to walk this tightrope.

Irish people believe cost-related difficulties in accessing some public services in health and childcare are the highest in the EU.

The report said while ratings for quality of GP services are high, one-third cited cost as a barrier to seeing a doctor, compared to an EU average of 16pc.

Cost is an issue for 46pc of people from upper-middle incomes.

Irish Independent

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