What is Quality of Life?

Alex Tree

The term “quality of life” is used to indicate the general well-being of people and societies. It often is associated with the term "standard of living," but the two do not necessarily mean the same. A standard of living merely is the evaluation of the wealth and employment status of a person in a society. Though both are factors to determine quality of life, these are not its sole indicator. A person’s environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation, social well-being, freedom, human rights and happiness also are significant factors.

An individual's health may play a large role in determining their quality of life.
An individual's health may play a large role in determining their quality of life.

Some politicians and economists use the term “quality of life” to assess the livability of a society. In healthcare, a patient who is diagnosed with a major depressive disorder often is evaluated based on the quality of his or her life. Many social psychologists also consider it to be a major factor that influences some people's decisions to commit suicide.

Mental and social well-being are important quality of life factors.
Mental and social well-being are important quality of life factors.

Quality of life is measured in a variety of contexts. Aside from healthcare, it also is used in international development and political science. This results in the diverse definitions given to the term. Factors that are considered are both qualitative and quantitative. Many local, national and international organizations conduct surveys and psychological tests to determine an individual or society’s life quality for different purposes.

The World Bank defines poverty as indicating a low quality of life.
The World Bank defines poverty as indicating a low quality of life.

In international development, quality of life is used to broaden the analysis of a society’s standard of living. The theories and methodologies used greatly depend on the organization’s principles and ideologies. In many cases, such methods also are affected by the kind of result that the organization expects from their study.

The United Nations, which is headquartered in New York City, uses the Human Development Index to ascertain a nation's quality of life.
The United Nations, which is headquartered in New York City, uses the Human Development Index to ascertain a nation's quality of life.

World Bank has defined quality of life in terms of its neo-liberal policies that are supposed to eradicate poverty on a global scale. It defines the term based on the fundamental needs of humans. Based on this, poverty is then defined as having low quality of life. For grassroots non-government organizations that are not focused on reducing poverty on a national or international scale, improving this aspect is usually done by helping the individuals in their communities.

Quality of life is not dependent upon wealth.
Quality of life is not dependent upon wealth.

The methods to determine the quality of life in a society or for an individual can be either objective or subjective. To illustrate, determining the level of happiness of a person is difficult to quantify. This is the reason that many organizations would rather depend on tried-and-tested quantitative instruments in assessing it. One popular example is the Human Development Index used by the United Nations Development Programme.

Children who have abusive parents may have a poor quality of life.
Children who have abusive parents may have a poor quality of life.

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Discussion Comments


I believe everyone should read this to be able to understand at least what is the meaning of quality of life. Please read it with all your heart and mind.


Having a good quality life means having freedom, happiness, and to feel secure, having a high standard of life referring to a high level of comfort and wealth.

High incomes don’t bring you happiness, but they do bring you a life that you think is better, which is not the case as high incomes come with stress. But, income levels do affect the level of stress somebody is subjected to, and it in turn affects the emotional well-being of a person.

Also, there are many factors that affect the quality of life, such as the stability of the country, the medical care provided, the competitiveness within and outside of the country, etc. Additionally, regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may not only notice a "feel good sensation" immediately following your physical activity, but most people also note an improvement in general well-being over time, improving the quality of life.

Living in a place you love, being healthy, having good friends, and loving what you do for a living also lead to a good quality life.


I found this page after posting comments on the "what is Euthanasia " page. I just want to say thanks to Wisegeek for taking this subject seriously and updating their page. The link to Philosophy and epistemology was extremely helpful and has made it possible for me to really get a good grasp in understanding how to go about educating myself about this and any other important topic.


Nearly all the communities in India, such as Bengali, are submerged in 'Culture of Poverty' (a theory once introduced by an US anthropologist Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives on the pavement or apartment, nobody is really at all ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life.

Even worse, political administration, immature mother language, continuous absorption of common space (mental and physical, both), becoming parents by blind self procreation simply depriving their incoming children the fundamental rights of a decent, caring society.

Do not ever look for other positive alternative behavior (values), i.e. deliberately co-parenting of those children who are born out of ignorance, real poverty. All of us are being driven and followed by the very animal instinct.

Can the Indian (Bengali) people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom from vicious cycle of 'poverty' into their own lives/attitudes, begin production of social space, or at least initiate a movement from the heart?


To me having a high quality of life is very simple. It doesn't take the money, or even a big house. I don't have to drive a fancy car or even where the most expensive cologne. All it really takes for me to be happy in life is family, love, and baseball.

The American dream baseball becomes real we said at home and watch it pop out from our television sets. It was easy for me to determine what my high quality of life really meant. I figured what I do is measure how much I was smiling during any given time of the day. And wouldn't you know, I smile the most love watching baseball with my family. Between those two I get love and that makes me have a high quality of life.

It may not be baseball that makes you happy likely to be a lot of different things and the important part is finding out what that thing is to understand what it takes to have a high quality of life.


Having a high quality of life is critical to being happy in life. some point in time to decide whether or not we feel like we're living a high quality life when you're feeling low quality of life. Only when we determine what quality of life we have is when we can decide if it is above or below our expectation.


I always find it humorous when quality-of-life surveys are given out at random public places. Perhaps one of the most humorous ones I've ever seen was conducted at a shopping mall. The generalized questions and nonspecific responses do not create any kind of definitive measurement of quality of life. I agree with the previous comments that is truly the definition of quality of life that you must I wait to make sure that it is in line with reasonable standards. I think we all have aspirations and desires for what we want, so more realistic for some people and some mercifully out of this world outrageous.

Quality of life measurement is key to determining if you are able to meet your goals and aspirations. Without this definition how can one define if he is truly met the standards he set for his own life.


I think that it is true people measure quality of life that they have in many different means. For a lot of people quality of life can have characteristics such as money and wealth as opposed to things like love and humor. These fundamental differences mean that it is hard to measure quality of life.

I think it is truly how you define what quality life is that set the standard an almost a baseline for how you perceive if you are happy or not in your daily doings and long-term goals.

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