It’s no surprise that the global financial crisis affected the happiness of people in the hardest-hit countries. According to a report released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Greece saw average life satisfaction levels drop by 20 percent, while Spain and Italy saw levels drop by 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively, from 2007 to 2012.
The organization also noted that the public’s trust in government fell dramatically in that period, which underlined the far-reaching impact of the crisis.
The United Kingdom was one of the few countries that saw trust in its government increase over that time, up from 36 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2011. The U.K. also saw a 1 percent rise in its happiness levels, putting it alongside the top 20 percent happiest countries in the OECD, in the company of Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
"The global economic crisis has had a profound impact on people's well-being, reaching far beyond the loss of jobs and income, and affecting citizens' satisfaction with their lives and their trust in governments," the 34-member organization reported.
Germany saw a small rise in happiness over the same five years, reflecting its more-robust economy and relative insulation from the crisis.
Across the whole OECD, trust in governments has dramatically decreased, with only 40 percent of people saying they trusted their governments, the lowest level since 2006. The figures used a number of different indicators, including personal security and work-life balance.
"This report is a wake-up call to us all," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. "It is a reminder that the central purpose of economic policies is to improve people's lives. We need to rethink how to place people's needs at the heart of policy-making."