Crisis has profound impact on well-being in countries hit hardest, OECD finds

The countries in the eurozone that have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis have seen a marked decline in the well-being of their citizens, a new report published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found.

“The global economic crisis has had a profound impact on people’s well-being, reaching far beyond the loss of jobs and income, and affecting citizens’ satisfaction with their lives and their trust in governments,” the study says.

The study, titled “How’s Life?”, measures factors such as material living conditions and quality of life in a bid to gauge true sentiment on the ground beyond economic indicators.

It found that reported average life satisfaction has declined by more than 20 percent in Greece, 12 percent in Spain, and 10 percent in Italy in the five-year period between 2007 and 2012, indicating the impact of austerity measures that have accompanied the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.

“This report is a wake-up call to us all,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria on the organization’s website. “It is a reminder that the central purpose of economic policies is to improve people’s lives. We need to rethink how to place people’s needs at the heart of policy-making.”

The report also finds that “citizens in the hardest-hit euro area countries have lost trust in their governments and institutions.” It says that the percentage of people in these countries claiming to trust national government fell by 10 percentage points in the five years leading to 2012. In the OECD countries as a whole, less than half of those surveyed said they trusted their governments – the lowest level recorded since 2006.

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