News01 2018 Eurofound

Eurofound Quality of Life Survey – fresh data on worklife balance of European families

Nearly 37,000 people in 33 European countries (28 EU Member States and 5 candidate countries) were interviewed by Eurofound in the last quarter of 2016 for the fourth wave of the European Quality of Life Survey. The results of the survey are included in its overview report. It uses information from previous survey rounds, as well as other research, to look at trends in quality of life against a background of the changing social and economic profile of European societies. Ten years after the global economic crisis, it examines well-being and quality of life broadly, to include quality of society and public services.

Key points of the findings on worklife balance including the following:

  • Comparison of work–life balance stress indicators between 2007 and 2016 shows that work–life balance has deteriorated for all age groups and in particular for young women and women in the mid-age category (35–49). The deterioration mostly took place after 2011. At the same time great numbers of older women workers are carers.
  • The categories of workers most likely to have a poor work–life balance are blue-collar workers, those on fixed-term contracts and those working long hours.
  • The number of children is a key factor leading to issues in work–life balance. While the finding may not be surprising, it does reinforce the urgency of developing childcare services, especially if societies wish to counterbalance the impact of demographic ageing and encourage higher birth rates.
  • While work–life balance is less problematic in continental and Nordic countries, it seems more difficult to achieve in eastern and southern Europe. The differential development of welfare state arrangements and working time flexibility probably explain these discrepancies.
  • When looking more closely at the frequency of stress experiences, there is polarisation across Member States. Although the findings show that more people experience problems more frequently, the summary indicator reveals little change over time. This stems from identifying more people who have fewer issues with work–life balance on the one hand but also more individuals with substantial issues on the other.
  • For many societies in Europe, there is a growing gap between the need for long-term care and the availability of formal care provision, underlining the need to support informal carers. The profile of carers and the priority given to work–care reconciliation are not generally high, and there is a lack of reference to informal carers in many existing policy documents.
  • Women still provide most of the care, whether for their own children, grandchildren or for relatives, friends and neighbours with a disability or infirmity. When it comes to providing care on a daily basis, twice as many women as men do so.

See full report here.

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