A major international study “How’s Life” by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown that the British people have come out of the global financial crisis happier than before they went into it and their level of general satisfaction with life has increased; in contrast to most other European countries. The drop in national morale, which has been seen in many Euro-zone countries, is “not visible” in the UK – even though there has been a rise in unemployment and a strain on households and living standards.
In the study Britain ranked alongside Switzerland, Australia, Scandinavia, Canada and New Zealand in the top tier of the study, which aimed to assess the quality of life across 34 countries. Greece was hit worst by the Euro-crisis and its reported average satisfaction with life fell by 20% between 2007 and 2012. In Spain it fell by 12% and in Italy 10%. In the UK the proportion of people who ranked themselves as very satisfied with their lives increased from 63% to 64%. Germany, Israel, Russia, Mexico and Sweden also saw small increases.
In the Euro-zone the percentage of people who said that they trusted their government fell by 10% between 2007 and 2012. In Britain it increased from 36% to 47%. The UK also ranked highest on environmental issues such as water and air quality and also “social connections” (whether people have a network of friends and relatives) and had one of the lowest murder rates and lowest numbers of victims of crime in the OECD. However on democratic measures, voter turnout was below average and engagement amongst the poorer section of society was second to worst. The UK did however have the highest level of consultation on Government policies in the world – higher than even Switzerland which holds regular referendums.
The OECD said: “In the OECD as a whole, the poor employment situation had a major impact on life satisfaction.
“This trend is not visible in the United Kingdom where, from 2007 to 2012, the percentage of British people declaring being very satisfied with their lives increased from 63 per cent to 64 per cent.”