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Quality of life in Europe - still many disparities - 02/01/2009

A shopping street in Bonn, Germany © Reporters

Study on quality of life in Europe reveals major disparities between EU countries.

A survey - carried out by Eurofound (the European foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions) - reveals major disparities between old and new EU countries, and between north and south.

Purchasing power in the new EU countries (and prospective new members) is barely 55% of the European average. The proportion of people there who have to do without things usually considered essential (adequate heating, new clothes and an annual holiday, for example) is far higher than in the rest of the EU.

The differences are also reflected in the quality of housing. Most people in the new EU countries own their own homes (as opposed to 40% in the old member countries) but the properties are generally in worse condition. 42% of Romanians have to deal with dilapidated housing, as opposed to 9% of Finns.

Regarding access to healthcare, the study revealed a shortage of medical equipment, mainly in southern Europe (with the exception of Spain) and in rural areas. Among the poorest section of the population, almost half had difficulty paying for a visit to the doctor in the new EU countries, as opposed to 31% in western Europe. The situation is likely to get worse as Europe's population ages.

People in the new EU countries, Italy, Portugal and Greece are far less satisfied with life than people in the north. On the other hand, people in the new member countries generally describe themselves as optimistic, in contrast to the French, Italians, Portuguese, Hungarians and Bulgarians. Overall, optimism has gone from 64% in the 2003 survey, to 55% today.

More information on Eurofound

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