This paper considers whether rising economic prosperity in the New Member States of the European Union since joining the EU is also reflected in better a quality of life and what constitutes a better quality of society for the citizens of these countries. The paper contributes to the debate about the relationship between economic conditions and subjective well-being by showing that the factors that contribute to the latter have not only changed with economic growth but that subjective life satisfaction has also improved. Here we consider how this relationship can be explained by using the Social Quality model to measure the quality of society. We look specifically at the New Member States of the European Union (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria) using the European Quality of Life Surveys for 2003 and 2007. This covers a period during which the economic conditions of these societies improved and they modernised. The social quality model explains a great deal of the variance in life satisfaction and helps us to show that as well as economic factors, other aspects of the quality of society, such as social integration and empowerment, are also important. We argue that economic and social factors have to be understood as interacting with other aspects of society if we seek to understand the quality of society.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge the work of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions in Dublin who sponsored the survey. Publications from the European Foundation can be found on their website at http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/
- social quality
- life satisfaction
- new member states
- economic change