Britain came 10th out of the 10 European countries in a Quality of Life Index due to high living costs, below average government spending on health and education, short holidays and late retirement.
France topped the Index for the second year in a row, with the French enjoying the highest quality of life, closely followed by Spain and Denmark.
In fact, in the UK, people pay the highest prices for food and diesel, yet the government spends below European average on health and education. Britons also work longer hours, retire later, receive less annual leave than most of our European counterparts and get less sunshine along the way. And, their life expectancy is below the European average of 79.3.
On the other hand, France enjoys the earliest retirement age, spends the most on healthcare and has the longest life expectancy in Europe. Its workers also benefit from 36 days holiday a year, compared with just 28 in the UK, and it comes only behind Spain and Italy for sunshine hours.
Spain has the most sunshine, the lowest prices for alcohol and the highest number of days holiday in Europe at 43 days a year. However, the Spanish government spends the least on education, according to the Quality of Life Index.
uSwitch.com, which organised the Index, compared 16 factors in 10 European countries. "Last year Brits were miserable but rich. This year we're miserable and poor. Whereas some countries work to live, in the UK consumers live to work," spokeswoman Ann Robinson was quoted by the British media as saying.
Interesting and relevant here is the Human Development Index, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. The top ten country rankings for 2010 are below. France came in 14th place and the UK at 26th.
- Norway 0.938
- Australia 0.937
- New Zealand 0.907
- United States 0.902
- Ireland 0.895
- Liechtenstein 0.891
- Netherlands 0.890
- Canada 0.888
- Sweden 0.885
- Germany 0.885