Some recent data from Eurostat:
Quality of life. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shows the accounting connection between monetary spending, production and income. But it’s only about monetary variables like debt and income. it’s not about happiness or environmental damage. Eurostat however has a new, easy multidimensional scoreboard to estimate aspects of ‘quality of life’ (health, housing conditions, overall life satisfaction, safety, governance, environment, material living conditions, employment, time use, education, social relations). Finland has, for instance, the highest ‘housing satisfaction rate’ of Europe, Bulgaria the lowest. Check it!
Health. When we look at ‘Amenable and preventable deaths’ Lithuania and Latvia do, according to Eurostat, a bad job. Bulgaria (a poorer country!) does better. Greece does much better (clearly less of a basket case country than often suggested). Turkey does much better, too. Source. Using Turkey as a yardstick it shows that in Europe ‘progress’ can not be taken for granted (click on the graph for a larger version). Graph 1. Sex differences in amenable mortality rates, 2012 (per 100.000 inhabitants)
Is the clear east-west divergence connected to neoliberal ‘bash the state’ policies which have been embraced by countries like Latvia and Lithuania? It’s more complicated – all the former Soviet-bloc countries do bad. Slovenia, which is a part of former Yugoslavia and not part of the Soviet bloc, does not. But the Soviet bloc countries should have made much more progress and my working hypothesis indeed is that neoliberal ideology (or market fundamentalism – call it however you want) led to a criminal neglect of public health. With dire consequences. Question: what are ‘amenable deaths’ anyway? Eurostat:
“This article presents statistics on two different indicators of avoidable mortality: amenable and preventable deaths. The concept of amenable and preventable mortality is based on the idea that certain deaths (for specific age groups and according to specific diseases as defined by the ICD classification, see the section data sources and availability) could be ‘avoided’, that means would not have occurred at this stage, if there had been more effective public health and medical interventions in place. A death can be considered as amenable if it could have been avoided through good quality health care. The concept of preventable deaths is broader and includes deaths which could have been avoided by public health interventions focusing on wider determinants of public health, such as behaviour and lifestyle factors, socioeconomic status and environmental factors. Source.
Employment, 2014. Not and east-west but a north south divide (main exception: Belgium), the low level for Turkey is mainly caused by low participation rates for women. Low levels for Spain and Greece are of course caused by the Great Financial Crisis. Source.
Graph 2. Employment rate, age group 15–64, 2014 (%)employment