Geographies in Depth

This is the country that most Europeans think has the best quality of life

A hot air balloon flies above the city of Geneva April 10, 2011. Thirty balloons took part in the 5th Montgolfiades balloon festival which takes place from April 8 to 10. The balloons took off in various parks in the city center and landed in the nearby countryside.

Citizens from nine European nations have rated living conditions in their home countries and those in neighboring countries on a scale of one to 10. Here are the results. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Marta Cooper
Reporter, Quartz
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Geographies in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how European Union is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

European Union

Europe had a tumultuous 2015: two terror attacks hit France, Greece’s economy dropped into a deep depression, and a record number of refugees arrived on the continent’s shores. And with the prospect of a British exit from the EU next month, no one’s quite sure what 2016 has in store.

On the back of all this drama, how do Europe’s citizens think of life elsewhere on the continent? A survey (pdf) by a research group based at the University of Geneva asked citizens from nine European nations to rate living conditions in their home country and those in neighboring countries on a scale of one to 10.

 Perception of quality of life
Image: Quartz

Interestingly, the one country that comes out top the most is not even a member of the European Union. Switzerland has long built up a reputation as a tax haven and one of the world’s wealthiest nations (to say nothing of its chocolate, cheese, and mountains). It also has restrictive refugee policies, which came under criticism from the UN last year.

As for Greece, its bankrupt economy has been teetering on the edge of catastrophe since 2010, despite three massive bailouts in five years. The country has the highest unemployment rate in Europe, with a quarter of people out of work. It has also been the biggest victim of the refugee crisis—at its height, hundreds of migrants were arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos daily. (Other Europeans seem to be ignoring the appeal Greece’s beaches and weather, though.)

The survey also found that only about a third of respondents in Greece and Italy believed that their living standards were better than those of their parents, contrasted with a majority of respondents in northern European nations such as Germany, Sweden, and the UK.

When it came to considering whether the economy would improve in the future, the most optimistic nations were the UK and Spain. The most pessimistic? France.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

The Horn of Africa's deep groundwater could be a game-changer for drought resilience

Bradley Hiller, Jude Cobbing and Andrew Harper

May 16, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum