Social Quality in Times of Recession

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: Booth 53
Oral Presentation
Pamela ABBOTT , Sociology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Claire WALLACE , Social Science, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
The economic recession has had an impact on the economies of the EU27 countries. Although the impact has not been felt to the same extent in all countries there has been an increase in unemployment and financial distress in all of them. Yet surprisingly the economic downturn has not resulted in a significant decline in people’s social satisfaction across the EU as a whole. Comparing mean scores for subjective satisfaction for the EU27 using the data from the European Quality of Life Surveys (EQULS) for 2007 (before the onset of the economic recession) and 2011 we find that country mean scores have significantly increased in some countries, decreased in others and remained unchanged in some. The pattern of change is not explained by the differential impact of the recession in different countries. We also find that the Social Quality Model explains variation in subjective satisfaction for all countries for both 2007 and 2011. In other words across both time and space the same variables explain the variation in social quality.

In this paper rather than look at differences between countries we will look at differences between groups for whom the economic recession may have had a differential impact namely gender, age and economic circumstances. We will consider differences in life satisfaction between socio-economic groups and then use an index of social quality to examine the ways in which the context of the lives of the members of groups for whom subjective satisfaction changed significantly between 2007 and 2011.  The index of social quality includes measures of economic security, social cohesion, social integration and empowerment. It defines the socioeconomic space within which people live their daily lives.