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Content archived on 2024-05-29

Quality of life in a changing Europe

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Getting the balance right for quality of life

A European research effort has completed a study on how the EU can best balance economic performance with the preservation and improvement of a citizen's quality of life.

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Europe is in the midst of a time of great change, geographically and politically, socially and in the workplace. When the drive is on to improve the economy of every country and the living standard of every citizen, this may be to the detriment of quality of life. The overall aim of the appropriately named EU-funded project 'Quality of life in a changing Europe' (Quality) was to compare and contrast data on the social standards in the lives of citizens from eight countries specially selected to represent the diversity in Europe. Information collected included issues such as employment, income, workplace conditions, education, housing, family, health, work-life balance, life satisfaction and perceived quality of society. Project objectives were drawn up to give a comparative insight into the life and work of Europeans. From analysis and extrapolation by policymakers, politicians and industry's professionals, future trends in the quality of life and work were predicted. Linked to this, the conditions required to convert the workplace into a more balanced environment where work is socially and economically sustainable were examined. Another separate but very pertinent concern tackled was that of the importance of gender issues. Information was collected in a qualitative and quantitative manner. Based on national survey results, Quality developed an instrument to ascertain the social quality of European work places. Scenario analyses helped high-level groups in the quest to ascertain future trends for quality of life for both sexes. The role of gender in life and work quality was also examined as well as the impact of extraneous policies. Generally speaking the findings showed that from a political perspective, conditions in the social-democratic welfare states supported a higher quality of life with more gender equality, state family support and greater employment security. Study recommendations include investing in sustainability and gender equality. Taking an approach to living whereby life is seen as a lifelong learning experience which allows for family events, such as children, and life stages is seen as a positive outlook. Most important for a citizen's quality of life, Quality recommendations urged organisations to embrace a dual agenda for employees where quality of life and workplace effectiveness are not only of equal importance, but are inextricably linked.

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