OECD survey: Global financial crisis hurt happiness levels, eroded trust in governments

People in countries worst affected by the global financial crisis are less happy and more distrustful of governments than they were before the economic downturn, the results of a survey released Tuesday show.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development surveyed people living in the 34 OECD member countries and looked at a range of measures to gauge overall quality of life such as life satisfaction, jobs, income and health.

The researchers found that average life satisfaction levels in Greece, Spain and Italy fell by 20 percent, 12 percent and 10 percent, respectively, between 2007 and 2012, the worst years of the crisis.

"The global economic crisis has had a profound impact on people's well-being, reaching far beyond the loss of jobs and income, and affecting citizens' satisfaction with their lives and their trust in governments," the OECD said.

In Germany, which has weathered the economic storm better than most, the number of people saying they were satisfied with their life increased by 4 percent. Britain saw its happiness level rise 1 percent.

Trust in governments deteriorated across the OECD. Just 40 percent of those surveyed said they trusted their national elected leaders, which is the lowest level since 2006.

"This report is a wake-up call to us all," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria was quoted as saying.

"It is a reminder that the central purpose of economic policies is to improve people's lives. We need to rethink how to place people's needs at the heart of policy-making."