Synthesis 2013 > After five years of economic crisis, European anxieties continue to grow

After five years of economic crisis, European anxieties continue to grow

Despite (and undoubtedly due to) the lasting nature of the economic crisis, European anxieties have not diminished. On the contrary, they have continued to grow and to spill over to areas ever further removed from the objective economic situation.

Out of a total of 17 risks that could threaten the property or personal situations of individuals and their families (health, loss of autonomy, loss of employment, etc.), 16 now cause growing concerns for the Europeans surveyed in 2012 (French, Germans, Spanish, British, Italian and Polish). The only risk that does not cause increased concern among Europeans is the possibility of divorce or separation (42% nonetheless, unchanged relative to 2012). No other aspect of life has been spared, even though more often than not there has been no objective change in the likelihood of its occurrence. For example, the risk of death of a household member is a subject of significantly increased concern among 80% of the Europeans surveyed (5 percentage points more than in 2012). The possibility of a serious illness is also an increased cause for concern, whether it affects the person (81%; up by 4 points) or a member of the household (82%; up 4 points). The risk has not increased, what has changed is the feeling of increased vulnerability were such a situation to arise, particularly because the protection mechanisms in place up to now are considered to have become less effective.

Although the strongest anxieties continue to relate to risks to life and health (illness, accident, loss of autonomy, invalidity, etc.), those that have increased most since last year are the risks more directly linked to economic conditions: loss of employment (62%, 7 points more than in 2012, say that this possibility is a major worry). After more than five years of crisis, the strength of this fear (bearing in mind that it does not concern all the people surveyed, for instance retired people and students) and the fact that it continues to spread is a strong indication of the severity of the ongoing European economic and confidence crisis.

While medical risks continue to figure among the top three causes of anxiety, they are on a downward trend (39% of the people in the countries already surveyed in 2012 included this risk in the three most worrying risks, i.e. down by 2 points compared with 2012). Financial risks (44%) and the risk of unemployment (40%) are greater sources of concern. The anxiety linked to this last risk family increased (up by 2 points since 2012). European anxieties therefore continue to be dominated by the economic situation and unemployment.

European anxieties continue to grow

Regards d'experts

guillemet début One thing that stands out for me in this research is the importance of everything relating to people’s physical integrity, such as their body, becoming ill and being mugged. In the hierarchy of fears, this comes before unemployment and financial risks, which tells us something about how Europeans relate to their individuality and health.

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guillemet début In our developed countries, risk aversion flourishes because real risk is disappearing. Take the example of air travel – last year, there were only 17 accidents for 800 million passengers and 6 million flights. The same goes for rail and road travel. And also for social welfare: 50% of global social spending is made in Europe. We live in an environment in which risk has largely disappeared!

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guillemet début In a developed region like Europe, accidents have become increasingly rare and therefore all the more shocking, fuelling risk aversion even more.

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