Irish rank highly for quality of life in EU, survey finds

State is one of Europe’s happiest as international world happiness day is marked

Irish people enjoy among the highest quality of life and standard of living in Europe, according to the European Union.

The news will come as a surprise to Irish people who have suffered after more than five years of recession.

To mark the UN International Day of World Happiness which occurs today, the EU's Eurostat barometer has ranked Ireland as among the countries enjoying the highest quality of life in Europe.

It also ranks Ireland as the third richest country in the EU after Luxembourg (€67,100) and Austria (€33,100) with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power standards (PPS) of €32,900, richer than Germany (€31,500), the UK (€26,800) and France (€27,700). The EU average is €25,500.


Ireland has an overall experience of life ranking of 7.4 (out of 10). The top ranked country in Europe is Denmark which consistently tops polls of countries with the best quality of life. Its ranking is 8.4. Other countries which score highly on the overall experience of life are Sweden (8.0), Finland (8.0) Luxembourg (7.8), Malta (7.7) and Netherlands (7.7).

However, critical data is left out of the Irish score. It includes median income in PPS and income quintile share ratio which would indicate levels of income inequality and there are no indicators for how many people are unable to afford unexpected expenses.

Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with international surveys which find that Irish people rank themselves among the happiest in the world.

A recent OECD Better Life index found Ireland had a high life expectancy, high levels of educational attainment and work on average less hours than the OECD average.

It also found that 84 per cent of Irish people have more positive experiences than negative ones in an average day. The OECD average is 80 per cent.

Another international survey found that the recession has barely affected Irish people’s sense of well-being, an international survey has suggested.

The World Happiness Report ranks Ireland 18th in the world with an average happiness score of 7.076 (out of 10) for the years 2010 to 2012.

This is just 0.068 less than the score of 7.144 recorded for the years 2005 to 2007 at the time when the Celtic Tiger was at its height.

World Happiness Report co-author John Helliwell said economic well-being was only one measure of happiness and on many others Ireland scored very well. He said Ireland's result was "remarkable" given the financial crisis.

“This is just one more illustration that people’s happiness depends to a much smaller extent on their income than they think it does,” he said.

Some 97.1 per cent of Irish people had somebody they felt they could rely on in times of troubles, the second best in the world, which has improved from 96.7 per cent between 2005 and 2007. This, he said, was a “very important variable” at a time of economic hardship.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times