European Quality of Life Surveys (EQLS)

Carried out every four years, this unique, pan-European survey examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. It looks at a range of issues, such as employment, income, education, housing, family, health and work-life balance. It also looks at subjective topics, such as people's levels of happiness, how satisfied they are with their lives, and how they perceive the quality of their societies.

By running the survey regularly, it has also become possible to track key trends in the quality of people's lives over time. Previous surveys have shown, for instance, that people are having greater difficulty making ends meet since the economic crisis began. In many countries, they also feel that there is now more tension between people from different ethnic groups. And across Europe, people now trust their governments less than they did before. However, people still continue to get the greatest satisfaction from their family life and personal relationships.

Over the years, the EQLS has developed into a valuable set of indicators which complements traditional indicators of economic growth and living standard such as GDP or income. The EQLS indicators are as clear and appealing as GDP, however they are more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of progress and therefore are easily integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate at EU and national levels in the European Union.

In each wave a sample of adult population has been selected randomly for a face to face interview. In view of the prospective European enlargements and interest from the EFTA countries the geographical coverage of the survey has expanded over time:

  • First EQLS in 2003 - 28 countries: 27 EU Member States and Turkey
  • Second EQLS in 2007-2008 - 31 countries: 27 EU Member States, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Turkey and Norway
  • Third EQLS in 2011-2012 - 34 countries: 27 EU Member States and Croatia, Iceland, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo.

In addition, a number of questions from the second EQLS were asked as part of a Eurobarometer survey in 2009 which allowed for the study of Trends in quality of life in the EU: 2003-2009.