This book looks at the evolution of quality of life in Spain over the recent economic crisis, using a multidimensional approach based on the OECD’s Better Life initiative. The idea is to analyze the dynamics of a set of variables linked to the material well-being, education, health and personal and social environment of citizens in different autonomous regions. The chosen variables correspond as far as possible to those specified by the OECD in drawing up its well-being index How’s Life?
The study’s multidimensional approach and comparative design enable a comprehensive overview of how the crisis has impacted on people’s well-being. To gauge material well-being, the authors analyze the evolution of household spending, inequality, poverty and unemployment. The educational variables considered are the percentage of the population with at least secondary school studies, schooling life expectancy, school drop-out rates, PISA scores and the skills of the working age population. For the health indicator, the variables employed are life expectancy, self-assessed health and certain risk factors (obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption). Finally, citizens’ personal and social environment is measured by reference to personal relationships, security, political participation and life satisfaction.
It appears from the study that the crisis has impacted unevenly across autonomous regions, social groups and, above all, generations. Economic recovery does not seem to be reaching certain collectives, like the long-term unemployed, young people or lower-income families. Although educational variables performed positively on the whole, as evidenced particularly by falling drop-out rates (though still about double the level of the European Union), problems persist with regard to the skills quality of Spanish nationals. Life expectancy remains one of the variables in which Spain occupies a lead position (behind only Japan), though with the downside of suffering a progressively aging society. Increased childhood obesity is also a threat that merits closer attention.
The book is written so as to be accessible to the general public as well as providing material for economic and social analysts.