France tops Europe for quality of life, Britain worst
London -- France has the best quality of life out of Europe's biggest countries, while Britain has the worst despite having the highest incomes, a study said last week.
British workers can expect to spend three years longer at work and die two years younger than their French counterparts, while they pay above the European average for fuel, food, alcohol and cigarettes, the study by uSwitch.com said.
The consumer website used existing research from different sources to compare 17 lifestyle factors in France, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Britain.
It revealed that Britain had the highest net household income — at 35,730 pounds a year it is 10,000 pounds (16,000 dollars, 11,000 euros) above the European norm — but much of this is spent on a higher cost of living.
Britain is the second most expensive country in Europe for unleaded petrol, while diesel is 20 percent above the European average. Food also costs more and only Ireland and Sweden pay more for a round of drinks.
Poland has the longest working hours but its holiday allowance is also among the highest, while British workers put in an average 37 hours each week but have the lowest holiday entitlement.
Britain is also near the bottom of the rankings when it comes to health and education spending as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), has a below average life expectancy — and enjoys far less sunshine.
By contrast, the French retire earlier, live longer and have more paid holiday than the average across the 10 countries. While they earn less, they have some of the lowest food, alcohol, electricity and gas prices.
"We earn substantially more than our European neighbours, but this level of income is needed just to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and our homes warm," said Ann Robinson, head of consumer policy at the British firm.
"It’s giving us a decent standard of living, but it’s not helping us achieve the quality of life that people in other countries enjoy."
The report warned that Britain’s quality of life was likely to fall further because of the recession, which has pushed unemployment to nearly 2.5 million and will likely result in public spending cuts.