Other Issues (27-02-2007)
What is the social reality of Europe?
- Individuals define themselves by the choices they make over consumption. Consumption is so important to people that they are prepared to incur large consumer debts in order to sustain it: as a percentage of annual household disposable income, consumer debt stands at over 90%.
- For the affluent, rising incomes have fuelled new sets of demands in an increasingly post-materialist society: as consumers, for new hobbies, organic food, gyms and personal trainers, and personal counselling; in business, for all kinds of consultancy; and in politics for environmental concerns.
- The consumption race can be ultimately unsatisfying, and for those who cannot keep up, it seems a source of stress - accentuating problems of self esteem and feelings of failure. Parallel to the explosion of healthy eating fads and diets, gyms and jogging, psycho-social factors are thought to be big contributory factors to binge drinking, obesity, and mental illness.
- There are wide variations in healthcare outcomes across the EU – for example, five year survival rates for bladder cancer range from 78% in Austria to 47% in Poland and Estonia.
- Regions where income inequality is high tend to have a significantly lower life expectancy than regions where income inequality is comparatively low.
- 7% of Europeans had taken prescription drugs in the previous 12 months due to psychological or emotional health problems and 3% had received psychotherapy in that period (7% in the Netherlands).
- As for obesity, the health risks can be as large as from smoking. Yet a Eurobarometer Survey showed that half of 15 -44 year olds had indulged in no vigorous physical activity in the previous seven days and 40% had not even taken part in moderate physical activity like walking for more than 30 minutes.
More information can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens_agenda/social_reality_stocktaking/index_en.htm