Global financial crisis hit happiness and trust in governments – OECD

Average life satisfaction declined by more than 20% in Greece, 12% in Spain and 10% in Italy, according to research

The global financial crisis hit happiness and eroded trust in governments, according to the OECD thinktank.

Its research into the human cost of the crisis found that between 2007 and 2012, reported average life satisfaction declined by more than 20% in Greece, 12% in Spain and 10% in Italy.

“In the wake of the crisis, household income and wealth, jobs and housing conditions deteriorated and have not completely recovered yet in many OECD countries,” says the How’s Life report.

“This had the effect of increasing poverty and inequalities, especially among young people and low-skilled workers. The number of discouraged workers and inactive people has increased, as did perceived work-life conflicts for employed people. Clear negative trends have also emerged in subjective well-being and civic engagement, with increasing levels of stress, lower life satisfaction and decreasing trust in national governments.”

The percentage of people in the worst affected euro area countries claiming to trust national government fell by 10 percentage points in the five years leading to 2012. In the 34 OECD countries as a whole, less than half of those surveyed said they trusted their governments – the lowest level recorded since 2006.

The thinktank’s research into Greece suggests the average Greek household has been “severely affected” by the crisis, particularly when it comes to household income, jobs, life satisfaction and civic engagement.

From 2007 to 2011, Greece recorded a cumulative decline in real household disposable income of around 23%, the largest decline among the OECD countries. Between 2007 and 2010, income inequality increased by 2%, well above the OECD average of 1.2%.

The poor employment situation had a major impact on life satisfaction. From 2007 to 2011, the percentage of Greek people declaring being very satisfied with their lives fell from 59% to 34%, the lowest share in the OECD area.

The percentage of Greek people reporting that they trust the government fell from 38% to 13% between 2007 and 2012.

Over the same period, for many countries new forms of solidarity and engagement have emerged, the OECD said. But that trend was not evident in Greece, where the percentage of people reporting having helped someone and having volunteered their time decreased by 4 and 3 percentage points, respectively, between 2007 and 2012.

“Compared with other OECD countries, Greece performs well in only a few of the 11 dimensions that the OECD considers as essential to a good life,” the report said.

“Greece ranks above the OECD average in the dimensions of health status, work-life balance and personal security, but below average in education and skills, income and wealth, civic engagement, jobs and earnings, social connections, housing, subjective well-being and environmental quality.”

In the US, the pressures of unemployment over the crisis saw around 20% of households move in with other households, the OECD said. Life satisfaction also dropped in there. From 2007 to 2012, the percentage of American people declaring being very satisfied with their lives fell from 78% to 67%.

The percentage of American people reporting that they trust the government fell from 39% to 35% between 2007 and 2012. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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