Quality of life

Quality of life

Overview
The term quality of life is used to evaluate the general well-being of individuals and societies. The term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development
International development
International development or global development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development — the development of greater quality of life for humans...

, healthcare, and politics. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

, 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.

According to ecological economist Robert Costanza
Robert Costanza
Robert Costanza is an American ecological economist is a University Professor of Sustainability at Portland State University in Oregon.- Biography :Robert Costanza was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania....

:
Also frequently related are concepts such as freedom, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and happiness
Happiness
Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Quality of life'
Start a new discussion about 'Quality of life'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The term quality of life is used to evaluate the general well-being of individuals and societies. The term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development
International development
International development or global development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development — the development of greater quality of life for humans...

, healthcare, and politics. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

, 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.

According to ecological economist Robert Costanza
Robert Costanza
Robert Costanza is an American ecological economist is a University Professor of Sustainability at Portland State University in Oregon.- Biography :Robert Costanza was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania....

:
Also frequently related are concepts such as freedom, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and happiness
Happiness
Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

. However, since happiness is subjective and hard to measure, other measures are generally given priority. It has also been shown that happiness, as much as it can be measured, does not necessarily increase correspondingly with the comfort that results from increasing income. As a result, standard of living should not be taken to be a measure of happiness.

Quantitative measurement


Unlike per capita GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 or standard of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

, both of which can be measured in financial terms, it is harder to make objective or long-term measurements of the quality of life experienced by nations or other groups of people. Researchers have begun in recent times to distinguish two aspects of personal well-being: Emotional well-being
Emotional well-being
Emotional well-being is a term that has seen increasing use in recent decades. The implications of decreased emotional well-being are related to mental health concerns such as stress, depression, and anxiety. These in turn can contribute to physical ill-health such as digestive disorders, sleep...

, in which respondents are asked about the quality of their everyday emotional experiences—the frequency and intensity of their experiences of, for example, joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection— and life evaluation, in which respondents are asked to think about their life in general and evaluate it against a scale. Such and other systems and scales of measurement have been in use for some time.

Human Development Index



Perhaps the most commonly used international measure of development is the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 (HDI), which combines measures of life expectancy, education, and standard of living, in an attempt to quantify the options available to individuals within a given society. The HDI is used by the United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to...

 in their Human Development Report
Human Development Report
The Human Development Report is an annual milestone publication by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme .-History:...

.

Other measures


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 focussing 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
Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation in July 2006. The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product and the Human Development 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
Ecological footprint
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to...

 as an indicator. As a result, European and North American nations do not dominate this measure. The 2009 list is instead topped by Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

, the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, and Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

.

Gallup research
The Gallup Organization
The Gallup Organization, is primarily a research-based performance-management consulting company. Some of Gallup's key practice areas are - Employee Engagement, Customer Engagement and Well-Being. Gallup has over 40 offices in 27 countries. World headquarters are in Washington, D.C. Operational...

ers trying to find the world's happiest
Happiness
Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

 countries found Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 to be at the top of the list.

A 2010 study by two Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 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
Joy
Joy may refer to:* Happiness, an emotion* Joy , people with the given name or surname Joy-Music:Bands & performers* Joy * Joy Albums* Joy ; also the title track from that album...

, affection
Affection
Affection or fondness is a "disposition or rare state of mind or body" that is often associated with a feeling or type of love. It has given rise to a number of branches of philosophy and psychology concerning: emotion ; disease; influence; state of being ; and state of mind...

, stress
Stress (biology)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

, sadness
Sadness
Sadness is emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness, sorrow, and rage. When sad, people often become outspoken, less energetic, and emotional...

, or anger
Anger
Anger is an automatic response to ill treatment. It is the way a person indicates he or she will not tolerate certain types of behaviour. It is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an unpleasant response....

) 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
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

, divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

, and being alone
Solitude
Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

, is exacerbated by poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

.

Livability


The term quality of life is also used by politicians and economists to measure the liveability of a given city or nation. Two widely known measures of liveability are the Economist Intelligence Unit's
Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is part of the Economist Group.It is a research and advisory company providing country, industry and management analysis worldwide and incorporates the former Business International Corporation, a U.S. company acquired by the parent organization in 1986...

 quality-of-life index
Quality-of-life index
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index is based on a unique methodology that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries...

 and Mercer's Quality of Living Reports
World's most livable cities
The world's most liveable cities is an informal name given to any list of cities as they rank on a reputable annual survey of living conditions. Two examples are the Mercer Quality of Living Survey and The Economists World's Most Livable Cities .Liveability rankings are designed for use by...

. These two measures calculate the liveability of countries and cities around the world, respectively, through a combination of subjective
Subjectivity
Subjectivity refers to the subject and his or her perspective, feelings, beliefs, and desires. In philosophy, the term is usually contrasted with objectivity.-Qualia:...

 life-satisfaction surveys and objective
Objectivity (science)
Objectivity in science is a value that informs how science is practiced and how scientific truths are created. It is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world, must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement, etc...

 determinants of quality of life such as divorce rates, safety, and infrastructure. Such measures relate more broadly to the population of a city, state, or country, not to individual quality of life.

Crimes


Some crimes against property (e.g., graffiti and vandalism) and some "victimless crimes" have been referred to as "quality-of-life crimes." American sociologist James Q. Wilson
James Q. Wilson
James Q. Wilson is an American academic political scientist and an authority on public administration. He is a professor and senior fellow at the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy at Boston College....

 encapsulated this argument as the Broken Window Theory, which asserts that relatively minor problems left unattended (such as litter, graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

, or public urination by homeless individuals) send a subliminal message that disorder in general is being tolerated, and as a result, more serious crimes will end up being committed (the analogy being that a broken window left unrepaired shows an image of general dilapidation).

Wilson's theories have been used to justify the implementation of zero tolerance
Zero tolerance
Zero tolerance imposes automatic punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct. Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively; they are...

 policies by many prominent American mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

s, most notably Oscar Goodman
Oscar Goodman
Oscar Baylin Goodman is an American lawyer and politician. He was the mayor of Las Vegas, Nevada from 1999 to 2011. Mayor Goodman is an Independent and a former member of the Democratic Party.-Biography:...

 in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Richard Riordan
Richard Riordan
Richard J. Riordan is a Republican politician from California, U.S.A. who served as the California Secretary for Education from 2003–2005 and as the 39th Mayor of Los Angeles, California from 1993–2001...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Rudolph Giuliani in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom
Gavin Christopher Newsom is an American politician who is the 49th and current Lieutenant Governor of California. Previously, he was the 42nd Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected in 2003 to succeed Willie Brown, becoming San Francisco's youngest mayor in 100 years. Newsom was re-elected in 2007...

 in San Francisco. Such policies do not tolerate even minor crimes, it is argued, in order to improve the quality of life of local residents. However, critics of zero tolerance policies believe that such policies neglect investigation on a case-by-case basis and may lead to unreasonably harsh penalties for crimes.

Popsicle index


The Popsicle Index is a quality of life measurement coined by Catherine Austin Fitts
Catherine Austin Fitts
Catherine Austin Fitts is the president of Solari, Inc., the publisher of The Solari Report, managing member of , and managing member of .-Background:...

 as the percentage of people in a community who believe that a child in their community can safely leave their home, walk to the nearest possible location to buy a popsicle
Popsicle
Popsicle is the most popular brand of ice pop in the United States and Canada. The first ice pop was created by accident in 1905 when 11-year-old Frank Epperson left a cup of soda on his porch in cold weather overnight. The next morning he went to go get the soda and it was frozen, so he put two...

, and walk back to their homes.

In healthcare



Within the field of healthcare, quality of life is often regarded in terms of how it is negatively affected, on an individual level, a debilitating illness that is not life-threatening, life-threatening illness that is not terminal, terminal illness, the predictable, natural decline in the health of an elder, an unforeseen mental/physical decline of a loved one, chronic, end-stage disease processes. Researchers at the University of Toronto's Quality of Life Research Unit define quality of life as “The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life” (UofT). Their Quality of Life Model is based on the categories “being”, “belonging”, and “becoming”, respectively who one is, how one is connected to one's environment, and whether one achieves one's personal goals, hopes, and aspirations.

Use in International development


Quality of life is an important concept in the field of international development
International development
International development or global development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition, but it is most used in a holistic and multi-disciplinary context of human development — the development of greater quality of life for humans...

, since it allows development to be analyzed on a measure broader than standard of living. Within development theory
Development theory
Development theory is a conglomeration of theories about how desirable change in society is best to be achieved. Such theories draw on a variety of social scientific disciplines and approaches.-Modernization theory:...

, however, there are varying ideas concerning what constitutes desirable change for a particular society, and the different ways that quality of life is defined by institutions therefore shapes how these organizations work for its improvement as a whole.

Organizations such as the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, for example, declare a goal of "working for a world free of poverty", with poverty defined as a lack of basic human needs, such as food, water, shelter, freedom, access to education, healthcare, or employment. In other words, poverty is defined as a low quality of life. Using this definition, the World Bank works towards improving quality of life through neoliberal
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 means, with the stated goal of lowering poverty and helping people afford a better quality of life.

Other organizations, however, may also work towards improved global quality of life using a slightly different definition and substantially different methods. Many NGOs do not focus at all on reducing poverty on a national or international scale, but rather attempt to improve quality of life for individuals or communities. One example would be sponsorship programs that provide material aid for specific individuals. Although many organizations of this type may still talk about fighting poverty, the methods are significantly different.

Because of these differences in the theory and practice of development, there is also a wide range of quantitative measures used to describe quality of life.

See also

  • Happiness
    Happiness
    Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

  • Simple living
    Simple living
    Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle. These may include reducing one's possessions or increasing self-sufficiency, for example. Simple living may be characterized by individuals being satisfied with what they need rather than want...



Indices:
  • Gross National Happiness
    Gross national happiness
    The assessment of gross national happiness was designed in an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product .-Origins and meaning:The term...

  • Genuine Progress Indicator
    Genuine Progress Indicator
    The genuine progress indicator is an alternative metric system which is an addition to the national system of accounts that has been suggested to replace, or supplement, gross domestic product as a metric of economic growth...

     - A proposed alternative to GDP
    Gross domestic product
    Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

  • Self-Perceived Quality of Life Scale
    Self-Perceived Quality of Life Scale
    Self-perceived quality-of-life scale is a psychological assessment instrument which is based on a comprehensive theory of the Self-Perceived Quality of Life and provides a multi-faceted measurement of health-related and non-health-related aspects of well-being...

  • Quality of working life
    Quality of working life
    "Quality of Working Life" is a term that had been used to describe the broader job-related experience an individual has.-Quality of Working Life and related concepts: job satisfaction, workplace stress and quality of life:...



Journals:
  • Social Indicators Research
    Social Indicators Research
    Founded in 1974, Social Indicators Research is a journal that publishes research results dealing with measurement of the quality of life. These studies - empirical, philosophical and methodological - encompass the whole spectrum of society, including the individual, public and private...

  • Journal of Business Ethics
    Journal of Business Ethics
    The Journal of Business Ethics is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by Springer Science+Business Media covering methodological and disciplinary aspects of ethical issues related to business, including systems of production, consumption, marketing, advertising, social and economic...


External links