French public: Quality of life has dropped in 20 years

The study found that those aged 35-54 and in work were most affected, and male mental health had also dropped

French people believe that their quality of life has gone down in the past 20 years, a new study has found, with working people aged 35-54 especially affected.

According to the results of three surveys - each using comparable sample sets - from 1995, 2003 and 2016, the French public has judged their quality of life to have become lower over time.

Those aged 35-54 and in work felt the change especially acutely.

The report was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Each of the studies across the years used the same questionnaire, using representative samples of the French population each time.

This featured questions on mental and physical health, as well as financial success and outlook.

Question examples included: “How would you say your physical and mental state has affected relationships with your family, friends, neighbours etc, in the course of the past month?” and “How are your movements, when you kneel, bend down or try to reach the floor?”

The study found that the HRQoL reading - aka the “health-related quality of life” measure - had dropped for both genders for people aged 18-54. The largest decrease was among men aged 45-54 and women aged 35-44.

Other significant findings included a drop in mental health for men.

The findings “deserve special attention from health policy-makers”, the report concluded.

Professor Joël Coste, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Paris-Descartes University, and one of the study’s four authors, said: “The studies showed a general lowering in quality [of life]. We can see the impact of the 2008 crisis, which hit these areas of the population with full force.”

Pr Coste added: “For young people, the decrease already seen between 1995 and 2003 has accelerated, whereas for those aged over 65, we see a levelling [of quality of life] or even positive changes, depending on the areas being considered.”

The long-term objective of the study, Pr Coste said, is to create “a large-scale picture of health for the World Health Organisation (WHO), which integrates physical, psychological, and social aspects.”

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