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Int J Public Health. 2014 Feb;59(1):143-56. doi: 10.1007/s00038-013-0461-6. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

Public acceptance of euthanasia in Europe: a survey study in 47 countries.

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  • 1End-of-Life Care Research Group, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090, Brussels, Belgium,



In recent years, the European euthanasia debate has become more intense, and the practice was legalized in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. We aimed to determine the current degree of public acceptance of euthanasia across Europe and investigate what factors explain differences.


Data were derived from the 2008 wave of the European Values Survey (EVS), conducted in 47 European countries (N = 67,786, response rate = 69 %). Acceptance of euthanasia was rated on a 1-10 scale.


Relatively high acceptance was found in a small cluster of Western European countries, including the three countries that have legalized euthanasia and Denmark, France, Sweden and Spain. In a large part of Europe public acceptance was relatively low to moderate. Comparison with the results of the previous EVS wave (1999) suggests a tendency towards a polarization in Europe, with most of Western Europe becoming more permissive and most of Eastern Europe becoming less permissive.


There is roughly a West-East division in euthanasia acceptance among the European public, making a pan-European policy approach to the issue difficult.

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