Well-being Index falls for first time in 8 years

Income and wealth was one of the indicators, revealing a 21.5% growth in GDP from 2010 to 2020, while gross national income rose 26%. Photo: Shutterstock

Income and wealth was one of the indicators, revealing a 21.5% growth in GDP from 2010 to 2020, while gross national income rose 26%. Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg residents gave their satisfaction with life 7.6 points out of ten for 2020.  The national bureau of statistics Statec has released the  second report on so-called Luxembourg Index of Well-being (LWI).

The index shows that on average the work-life balance, citizenship and governance and environmental indicators all increased ever so slightly from last year.  

In the meantime, the rates for education and skills are down, as well as those for income and wealth--potentially due to the high burden of housing costs--, employment, housing, social relationships, health and personal security, all decreased when compared to 2019.  

Luxembourg’s high GDP and well-being

Luxembourg has recorded a 7% growth of its GPD in 2021, after a 1.8% decrease in 2020, and is the EU country with the highest GPD per capita. 

Historically, a purely economic outlook had been taken for the welfare of citizens, with no alternative indicator believed to exist to replace GDP. The Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi Commission, to correct this, identified several indicators of quality of life, well-being, and capabilities in their 2009 report.

Following this report, in Luxembourg, as early as 2010, the government approached the Economic and Social Council (CES) and the Higher Council for Sustainable Development (CSDD) "to develop and propose a system of indicators of well-being measuring the progress of the society in a long-term perspective and exceeding traditional indicators such as GDP per capita".

The PIBien-être project is organised around 63 indicators of quality of life, like living conditions and subjective well-being. The Index of well-being is measured from 21 of these 63 indicators from 11 different fields proposed by the CES. 

Income and wealth was one of the indicators, revealing a 21.5% growth in GDP from 2010 to 2020, while gross national income rose 26%. In that same time period, the overall well-being indicator largely stayed the same, dipping somewhat significantly between 2011 and 2013 and slowly rising again until 2019, reaching the same level as 2010. In general, economic factors are a poor indicator of LWI, with an ever widening gap materialising between the two statistics. 

Insecurity rises

Covid-19 didn’t impact the well-being of residents, says Statec in its report. However, they also admit the end of 2022 is expected to reflect the full impact of the virus and its consequences on residents.

In terms of employment, though, job insecurity rose from 5.9% (2005) to 9.8% (2015). Part-time work also increased, 8.9% (2009) and 12.9% (2019), while temporary work contracts rose 2% between 2009 and 2019 to 9.2%.

The statistics provided for the report are somewhat sporadic in their uniformity, with some data provided only until 2015, some to 2016 and some all the way to 2018 and 2019, while other indicators have been missed out altogether, for instance the rate of suicide and figures on water pollution.

Although no statistics were provided by Statec on suicides, the WHO noted that there has been a general increase in Luxembourg, 9.8 (2017), 10.60 (2018) and 11.3 (2019) calculated per 100,000 people. In 2019, the male suicide rate was over double that of their female counterparts.

The daily dose intake of anti-depressants was also up, 151.2 (2009) to 165.3 (2016). Eurostat reported that the grand duchy has the 6th highest percentage of people reporting chronic depression in the EU. While the EU average was 7.2%, Luxembourg reached 10% for 2019, up 0.5% from 2014.

A smaller gender pay gap

A marked change and rapprochement of equal pay between men and women was clearly evident in the LWI report. In 2008 the gap in pay was 9.7%, whereas this had fallen to 1.4% a decade later in 2018.

When Statec asked residents to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 their general satisfaction with life during 2020, the average score was 7.6, the same rate as the previous year.