It averages scores for a range of items including household income after taxes, average working hours per week, hours of sunshine per year, retirement age, number of day’s holiday per year, fuel/electricity/food/alcohol/cigarette prices along with education and health spending as a percentage of GDP. It compares results from, and then ranks, ten EU countries – France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, the UK and Ireland.
If you’re looking to experience relative bliss then France appears to enjoy some advantages with the earliest retirement age (shared with Poland), largest healthcare spend at 11% of GDP and the longest life expectancy. Its workers also enjoy 36 days holiday a year compared with our 32.
Spain is rated second of the group with, as you might expect, the most sunshine of the countries surveyed. It also has the lowest prices for alcohol, most holidays at 43 days per year and spends the least on education. It seems to work for them.
Ireland came out a miserable 10th out of the 10 countries in the index. This appearance at the bottom of the pile is all the more incredible when you consider that the average Irish net household income is, by a margin of over £3,500, the highest of all ten countries surveyed at £44,955 (it is a UK survey). The lowest is Poland at £7,986, almost six times lower than our own – and we wonder why all our manufacturing industries are migrating there.
We pay the highest prices for gas, electricity, cigarettes and alcohol – yes, alcohol is 25% more expensive in Ireland than it is in Sweden. On the plus side our food prices are actually the lowest in the group, which doesn’t appear to add to our attractiveness in any way. Despite protestations to the contrary, we spend less than any other country surveyed on health. Most importantly, and least surprisingly, we have the least sunshine of any European country, some 30% below the European average. To add insult to injury we have the shortest life expectancy in Europe after the Polish so, not alone are we miserable, we have less time in which to wallow in it.
To see the survey results in detail visit www.uSwitch.com.