Response to Recession through Life Satisfaction in Europe: One Voice or Many?

  • Abstract:

    This project asked whether life satisfaction in European nations was affected by crisis in a homogeneous way. The project established clear trends in life satisfaction over time in European countries at the time of the recent financial crisis that point to existing variation among them that does not follow a clear dichotomy between East and West of Europe. The results indicate that there exists a cluster of countries in Europe that maintains its life satisfaction levels despite worsening financial situation in the continent. Moreover, some of these countries recorded significant growth in happiness. There is a lack of uniting factor amongst them as the cluster consists of three protestant nations: Germany, Netherlands, Norway; three post-communist countries: Poland, Russia and Slovakia, and a Mediterranean country – Portugal. Conversely, Spain and Greece are countries with happiness “in retreat” which is congruent with their disastrous economic situation. The rest of European nations shows some degree of sensitivity to the news of recession and reacts with worsening life satisfaction in either 2008 or 2010. Three clear trends of life satisfaction before and after recent crisis in Europe were established: N –shape, U- shape and unfinished W-shape that clusters the countries regardless of their economic, cultural or geographical position in Europe and as such denying the existence of schism between East and West of Europe. Concluding, it is asserted that economic crises tend to be followed by crises in happiness. However, Europe does not react to crisis in a unified way. Some nations maintained their happiness despite difficult situation. It is hard to predict how countries will react to future events in Europe but it won’t be as “one voice”.