Oct 14, 2020 | by Patricia Curmi

Norway’s first national survey on quality of life: the results

The Centre has worked with the Government of Norway and Statistics Norway to support their work on measuring and improving wellbeing in the country. In March 2020, Statistics Norway conducted a national survey on Quality of Life, and recently published a report on the results. If you don’t speak Norweigen, we’ve summarised them below in English. The findings have many parallels with findings on the drivers of wellbeing – and wellbeing inequalities – in the UK. 

The main purpose of the survey was to get data on Norwegians’ quality of life, and study differences between population groups. Questions in the survey focused on:

  • general satisfaction with life
  • satisfaction with different areas of life
  • optimism for the future
  • general engagement
  • management of life
  • social relations
  • positive and negative feelings. 

What did the survey find?

  • Most Norwegians are satisfied with life. 
  • A quarter (26%) of the population are highly satisfied (answers 9 or 10 on a scale from 0 to 10), while 22% have low satisfaction with their life (answers between 0 and 5 on the scale). 

The report covers indicators on health, social relations, work-environment, school-environment, economy, residence, local environment, democratic rights, leisure time and negative life events. 

  • Of the health indicators, people with anxiety- and depression-symptoms seem to have the biggest risk for low satisfaction
  • For indicators on social relations, having friends, family and someone to contact if there’s need are the ones that have the strongest significance to good quality of life. For example, to feel lonely is negatively linked to the satisfaction indicator. Of the work-environment indicators the report state that, especially, experiencing sexual harassment at work is linked to reduced satisfaction. 
  • The economy seems to have significance for satisfaction in life
  • Having experienced discrimination also has significance for quality of life. The proportion of people who are not satisfied with life is twice as large among those that have experienced discrimination compared to those that have not. 
  • Some negative life events stand out, because a very large share of people having experienced them report low satisfaction of life. This is especially true for those that have experienced strongly personal offensive incidents, exposure to- or threats of violence, forced- or attempted to be forced to sexual intercourse or being humiliated over a longer period.

The report also highlights the role of age, education, and personal circumstances.

  • In general, young people are less satisfied than older people. This applies for most of the quality-of-life-indicators in the survey, except for satisfaction with physical health, optimism for the future, and rewarding social relations. 
  • People with low educational levels and low incomes are less satisfied on many quality-of-life-indicators compared to people with high education levels and high incomes. 
  • Satisfaction varies a lot by life situation. People that are unemployed, physically disabled or have health challenges are examples of groups that are overrepresented among those that are unsatisfied with life.
  • People in the highest income quartile have a better score on all subjective life quality indicators. 
  • People with higher education also score significantly better than the general population on almost all indicators. 
  • Several groups  score significantly worse on all indicators on subjective life quality compared to the general population. This applies for people that are unemployed, have low income, low education, physical disabilities, symptoms of mental illness and the non-heterosexual (homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or other sexual identity). 

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