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Equality in Europe

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Reading time: 5 minutes
Our partner, Spotahome, works with people who are moving to places completely unfamiliar to them, and there’s one area of life more important to future movers than any other: equality.
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Whether you’re in the process of choosing a country or a city for your exchange period, future holiday destination, or a new home, there are several things you’re going to have to take into account - size of the place, traffic, number of parks or similar green areas, quality of education, need for workforce in your field, Starbucks presence and other things that give life meaning. Our partner, Spotahome, works with people who are moving to places completely unfamiliar to them, and there’s one area of life more important to future movers than any other: equality.


Merriam-Webster defines equality as “the state of being exactly the same in number, amount, status or quality”. Sounds pretty simple, right? Sure. However, while Google is very successful at informing us about the existence of a tall skinny latte with caramel drizzle near our new, hip living quarters, findings related to equality still make our little search engine stumble. Fortunately, our friends at Spotahome have stepped up their game and completed a study on various aspects of equality in order to find answers to compare cities and countries in Europe to one another.


Before you move on, make sure to check out the methodology behind the research.

Quality of life

Quality of life, the general well-being of individuals and societies, differs from the standard of living. While standard of living is based primarily on income, quality of life is based on life satisfaction, ranging from physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, religion, finances, and the environment. According to the research, Denmark, Finland and The Netherlands are the top three countries to live in if the quality of life is your main concern. They are closely followed by Switzerland, Austria and Germany which, on a scale from 1 to 10, all have an index above 9. However, if you’re looking for the number one quality of life city, you should head to Zurich. No matter if you’re moving only for a semester or for a more time-consuming job opportunity, quality of life is an important factor to consider before packing your bags.

Equality in Europe infographics
Equality in Europe

LGBTI friendliness

LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersex) friendliness is measured by constitutional rights, equality and non-discrimination in employment, education and health, measures taken in the face of hate crime and speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, spaces in civil society, and the existence of asylum. LGBTI rights are protected under EU treaties and laws, however, EU states have varying laws when it comes to greater protection, same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, and adoption by same-sex couples. Norway has an index of 8.80, followed closely by the UK and Belgium. Number one LGBTI friendly city is Oslo, followed by six UK cities ranked before Brussels, which can be found in 8th place. Everyone should feel safe and welcome wherever they’re staying, no matter the time frame, so it’s only natural to take this into account before taking a step abroad.

LGBTI friendliness infographics
Equality in Europe

Wheelchair accessibility


The Erasmus+ programme takes pride in its accessibility for all young people, and ESN supports the programme in the matter by nurturing various projects, with mappED at the forefront. Wheelchair accessibility is measured by the share of buses and metro stations that are wheelchair accessible. Based on those parameters, these seven cities are a perfect ten: Geneva, Warsaw, Zurich, Dublin, Rotterdam, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Students and staff with physical, mental and health-related conditions are eligible for additional funding within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme - read more here.

wheelchair in europe
Equality in Europe

Political rights & civil liberties


Civil and political rights ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression. While civil rights include one’s physical and mental safety, protection from any kind of discrimination and other individual rights, political rights include natural justice in law, legal remedy, and rights of participation in civil society and politics. The top three countries as fair as Steve Rogers are Norway, Finland and Sweden… it seems that The North truly does remember. The ability to safely participate and express yourself in an open space should be a normal occurrence for every individual.

Political rights & civil liberties infographics
Equality in Europe

Gender pay gap


Okay, if you are a guy, you can skip this one.


Still here? Good. Gender pay gap is NOT a women’s issue. It’s an issue of every person who is or has a mother, sister, wife, daughter… or, you know, every human on this colourful ball we call Earth. The Gender pay gap is the average difference between gross hourly earnings of male and female employees. If you think the women in your life should be treated like the educated and skilled humans beings they are, and if you would like to have a balanced household, then Luxembourg, Italy, Romania, Belgium and Poland should definitely be on your map. Rome, Milan and Luxembourg score a perfect 10, closely followed by Brussels and Warsaw.

Gender gap infographics
Equality in Europe

In the research, you can also find male-versus-female labour force participation, income inequality, immigrant acceptance, women in fortune 500 companies, and women in politics.


Once we take all these parameters into account, the top five countries with the strongest equality index are Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg and Finland. However, when speaking about cities, top 5 highest ranking cities are Helsinki, Stockholm, Rotterdam, Bristol and Reykjavik.


If you would like to educate yourself further on the topic, you can read the full Equality Report by Spotahome here. And if you’re searching for study or job opportunities abroad, it seems like you have some thinking to do. Or you could always contact Spotahome for further assistance.