We have the fastest growing economy in Europe and there may be clear signs that the recovery is bedding in. To top that, it appears that we are among the happiest in Europe.
After years of crisis, rising unemployment and harsh austerity policies, citizens across the European Union were asked a simple question: Overall, how satisfied are you with your life these days?
The data dates back to 2013, and the results varied significantly between member states.
Countries were ranked on the life satisfaction scale between 0 and 10 and many Scandinavian countries with strong economies boasted the happiest people.
Denmark had a score of 8, Finland and Sweden also fared well, followed by citizens in the Netherlands and Austria.
At the opposite end of the scale were residents in Bulgaria, who were by far the least satisfied with a score of 4.8, followed, perhaps unsurprisingly, by citizens in debt-riddled and austerity-battered Greece, as well as Cyprus, Hungary and Portugal.
Ireland scored 7.4, with pensioners aged between 65 and 74 the most satisfied.
The results suggest that we’re fractionally happier than some of the major Eurozone economies, including Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, which recorded a score just below us at 7.3, as well as France and Italy.
We’re also fractionally more satisfied than our near neighbours in the UK, a nation which also scored 7.3. When looking at age groups, life satisfaction in the EU overall was highest among young people, and lowest for elderly people.
Eurostat said that life satisfaction at EU level tends to fall with rising age, with the exception of the age group between 65 and 74, which is for most people the period right after retirement.
And as the saying goes, money doesn’t buy you happiness.
The Eurostat study showed that money is not the most influential factor for life satisfaction. The highest average rating of life satisfaction in the EU was to be found among those in very good health.
Financial factors also had an impact, but less so than health.
“Life satisfaction is a multi-dimensional concept, which is very much shaped by various socio-demographic factors which lead to different living situations as well as to different expectations and preferences,” the Eurostat release noted.
“While women and men are almost equally satisfied, health condition appears to be one main determining factor in life satisfaction, ahead of factors such as financial position, the labour market or social relations.”
Meanwhile, separate data showed that pay growth in the Eurozone slowed in the final three months of last year, which, if it continues, could raise concerns about the slide into deflation in the bloc.
Wages were 1pc higher than in the same period of 2013, a drop from the 1.4pc growth rate recorded in the third quarter.
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