Study shows: Austrians are satisfied despite corona crisis

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So far, the corona crisis has had no effect on the general life satisfaction of Austrians. This is shown by the preliminary data of a current EU study.

So far, the corona crisis has had no effect on general life satisfaction. This was reported by Statistics Austria on Tuesday, citing preliminary data from a current EU study (EU-SILC 2020). No concrete data were mentioned. In last year’s study, Austrians had given their life satisfaction an average of 8 out of 10 points, only Finns and Irish were more satisfied.

Crisis had a negative impact on prosperity and quality of life
Life satisfaction is one of 31 indicators of the survey “How’s Austria”, which is conducted annually by Statistics Austria in cooperation with independent experts. This year, it is under special auspices due to the Corona crisis, since the most current data for the survey is from the previous year. Before the crisis, “Austria was in an excellent position in terms of prosperity and quality of life,” said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas at the presentation of the study.

Together with WIFO Director Christoph Badelt, Thomas ventured a first outlook on the corona year 2020, using preliminary data such as those from the EU-SILC 2020 study, but also quarterly GDP figures. It was said that the crisis would have a negative impact on prosperity and quality of life and a positive effect on some environmental indicators. As in previous years, the environment is the problem child of the study.

In terms of economic indicators, Austria was able to maintain its top positions in the EU comparison last year. The unemployment rate fell, the unequal distribution of income decreased somewhat, and the GDP per capita grew in line with the disposable household income. At 28,177 euros per capita, this was higher than in any other EU state except Luxembourg and Germany.

Decline in household income
The Corona crisis made a decline in household income “probable, but currently not statistically quantifiable,” it was said. However, preliminary data from the EU study were also cited, according to which 21 percent of those surveyed reported a decline in their household income in the past twelve months – compared to 13 percent last year. At the same time, it was said that the effects of the corona crisis on the risk of poverty were “currently not statistically quantifiable. With 16.9 percent of persons at risk of poverty, Austria was significantly below the EU average (21.4 percent) in the previous year.

Austria Critically Assesses Health Status
The Austrians are more critical of their state of health. 71.3 percent attest themselves a very good or good subjective state of health, which is only slightly above the EU average (69.3 percent). This value has been stable for several years.

Environmental sector continues to get off to a poor start
The environmental situation remains comparatively poor. Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.8 percent in the previous year. The development in the transport sector is particularly negative, with energy consumption rising by 36.8 percent between 2000 and 2018 (EU average: 7.7 percent). However, the measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus have had a positive effect on these areas this year. According to an estimate by the Economic Research Institute (WIFO), greenhouse gas emissions are expected to fall by 7.1 percent this year, while the volume of freight traffic in the second quarter fell by 14.6 percent.

Lower particulate matter emissions and a massive increase in organic areas as a proportion of total agricultural land were cited as rays of hope. The proportion more than doubled between 2000 (11.5 percent) and 2019 (24.7 percent). It is also remarkable that the organic boom continued even during the Corona crisis. In the first half of 2020, the volume of fresh organic food purchased rose by 14.4 percent compared with the same period in the previous year, with the increase in value even amounting to 20 percent.

At the presentation of this year’s study, WIFO Director Badelt emphasized its holistic approach. With regard to the traditional economic indicator gross domestic product, he emphasized that although it is internationally comparable, “it only tells part of the story”. “The broader we measure the economic, social and ecological state of our society, the better,” he praised the study series.

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