People in Austria enjoy a high level of prosperity compared to other countries – however, the rising cost of living due to high inflation is leading to a setback for the sustainable development of well-being and prosperity, warns the Chamber of Labor (AK) in its sixth prosperity report. “The inflation crisis is exacerbating social inequality,” said Chamber of Labor chief economist Markus Marterbauer at a press conference on Wednesday.
The Chamber of Labor does not measure people’s well-being based on gross domestic product, but rather based on factors such as quality of life, fair distribution and an intact environment. The AK only rates eight of the 30 indicators positively; last year there were only five. The AK primarily uses data from Statistics Austria as a basis for decision-making.
Quality of life decreased
According to the Chamber of Labor, the general quality of life of Austrians has deteriorated somewhat. According to AK, the high housing costs and rising costs in other areas of life had a negative impact on quality of life, which has been assessed as positive or neutral in recent years. “Many people can no longer cover their living costs due to massive inflation,” said AK social policy director Sybille Pirklbauer. There were improvements in the sub-goal “Increase in healthy years of life” and the general life satisfaction of people in the country.
Inflation is exacerbating the climate crisis
According to the AK report, inflation also impacts the overarching goal of an intact environment. From the perspective of the Chamber of Labor, high inflation is also exacerbating the climate crisis, as it diverts the attention of economic policy from achieving climate goals to dealing with inflation. “When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, the political measures fall short of the climate goals,” criticized Lukas Oberndorfer, head of the AK Environmental and Transport Policy. In addition, soil sealing is increasing again. However, the AK has noted improvements in the share of public transport; investments in the expansion of climate-friendly infrastructure have had a noticeable impact here.
High concentration of assets
According to the AK report, the concentration of wealth in Austria remains high. There has been little progress in the distribution of income between women and men. The distribution of unpaid work is also hardly improving. Women continued to do the majority of unpaid care work such as child care and nursing. The Chamber of Labor sees a sharp deterioration in the quality of jobs.
demands on politics
The Chamber of Labor also combines its prosperity report with demands on politicians. As a short-term measure, a “social-ecological investment package” is needed with a focus on public investments in climate protection, the expansion of childcare and nursing care, and a comprehensive qualification offensive. The Chamber of Labor also renewed its demand for a reduction in working hours with full pay. A reduction to 30 to 35 hours per week is necessary in order to be able to work healthily until retirement. In addition, professions that are central to prosperity and well-being – for example in the health, care and education sectors – would have to be upgraded and better paid.
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