Quality of life, Other measures

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Summary

Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

Details

The Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) is a measure developed by sociologist Morris David Morris in the 1970s, based on basic literacy, infant mortality, and life expectancy. Although not as complex as other measures, and now essentially replaced by the Human Development Index, the PQLI is notable for Morris's attempt to show a "less fatalistic pessimistic picture" by focusing on three areas where global quality of life was generally improving at the time, and ignoring Gross National Product and other possible indicators that were not improving.

The Happy Planet Index, introduced in 2006, is unique among quality of life measures in that, in addition to standard determinants of well-being, it uses each country's ecological footprint as an indicator. As a result, European and North American nations do not dominate this measure. The 2012 list is instead topped by Costa Rica, Vietnam and Colombia.

Gallup researchers trying to find the world's happiest countries found Denmark to be at the top of the list. uSwitch publishes an annual quality of life index for European countries. France has topped the list for the last three years.

A 2010 study by two Princeton University professors looked at 1,000 randomly selected U.S. residents over an extended period. It concludes that their life evaluations - that is, their considered evaluations of their life against a stated scale of one to ten - rise steadily with income. On the other hand, their reported quality of emotional daily experiences (their reported experiences of joy, affection, stress, sadness, or anger) levels off after a certain income level (approximately $75,000 per year); income above $75,000 does not lead to more experiences of happiness nor to further relief of unhappiness or stress. Below this income level, respondents reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness and stress, implying the pain of life’s misfortunes, including disease, divorce, and being alone, is exacerbated by poverty.

Gross National Happiness and other subjective measures of happiness are being used by the governments of Bhutan and the United Kingdom. The World Happiness report, issued by Columbia University is a meta-analysis of happiness globally and provides an overview of countries and grassroots activists using GNH. The OECD issued a guide for the use of subjective well-being metrics in 2013. In the U.S., cities and communities are using a GNH metric at a grassroots level.

The Social Progress Index measures the extent to which countries provide for the social and environmental needs of their citizens. Fifty-two indicators in the areas of basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity show the relative performance of nations. The index uses outcome measures when there is sufficient data available or the closest possible proxies.

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External Links

  • WikipediaThe First European Quality of Life Survey 2003Quality of Life in a Changing EuropeEnsuring quality of life in Europe's cities and townsAQoL InstrumentsApplied Research in Quality of Life

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