‘The higher the education and income, the lower the satisfaction with recreation time’

Data suggests people in Malta have a higher level of satisfaction with jobs, finances and relationships than their European counterparts

People in Malta may have a higher level of satisfaction with jobs, finances and relationships than their European counterparts, but are then less satisfied with their use of time and leisure, initial findings from the first wellbeing project have found.

INDEX – Indicators Networking Data Extrapolation eXchange – a strategic initiative by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society with the University of Malta, will serve as a repository of information to guide policymakers and stakeholders in measuring the island’s wellbeing.

Lead researcher Marie Briguglio said the emerging data so far was not surprising, especially considering Maltese tend to work longer hours than their European neighbours.

“The higher the education, the higher the income, the lower the satisfaction with recreation time in Malta. Those most satisfied with their time use are the elderly. However, we find loneliness is higher among this category,” Briguglio said. 

Briguglio said this study employed a dataset collected in 2018 by Malta’s National Statistics Office as part of the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions. 

The first set of outcomes were presented in Parliament during an event opened by Speaker Anglu Farrugia and addressed by European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica, MFWS chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and University rector Alfred Vella.

Coleiro Preca said that, since its launch in December, the Malta Wellbeing Index Project had received wide support, including from the European Commission and the World Bank, while advisors from the London School of Economics and the National Statistics Office have come on board.

Farrugia said parliamentarians' decisions had to be based on scientific research, and “doing otherwise would be reckless”. 

The review found life satisfaction in Malta stood at 7.5 out of 10, higher than the EU average of 7.3 for the same period. In contrast, average satisfaction with time use stood at 6.6 out of 10, compared to an EU average of 6.8.

Meanwhile, in terms of emotional wellbeing, people in Malta, like their European counterparts, reported happiness as the more frequently felt emotion.

The study confirmed that materially-deprived individuals in poor health and separated or divorced reported lower well-being levels than others. Single-parent households also report lower average wellbeing. On the other hand, employed people report higher life satisfaction than those in retirement, unemployed or unable to work due to disability. 

“These findings should start to shine a light on the poor satisfaction with availability and use of leisure time; the materially deprived, those in poor health, single parents, unemployed, disabled, and those living in polluted areas; as well as loneliness, especially among the elderly,” Briguglio said.  

This three-year study will eventually consolidate all the indicators of wellbeing and create a model based on the data to identify the extent to which each outcome contributes to enhance or suppress wellbeing in Malta.