Quality of life is a collective term for all those factors that make up the positive living conditions in a society for its members.
There are also a few other factors that influence happiness and satisfaction, such as: B. Education , job opportunities, social status, health, nature and others. These are summarized in the term immaterial wealth .
Quality of life is a fundamental topic in philosophy, medicine, religion, economics and politics. Some scientists assume that the assessment of one's own quality of life is based on very subjective criteria. Others speak of the individual quality of life (more precisely here: the happiness feel) have largely an individually prescribed according to each dimension ( Engl. : Set point ) to the return the individual to short-term changes. Research in recent years has recognized increasingly strong statistical relationships between life satisfaction and the external factors mentioned above.
Thus it seems possible to increase the subjectively perceived quality of life by improving external factors, and this in the long term at least for some people. In addition, it can also be influenced by the type of individual attention.
The term quality of life was first used by Arthur Cecil Pigou in the 1920s . US President Lyndon B. Johnson used it in his 1964 presidential campaign and later in a State of the Union address . The term only became popular in the 1970s. According to sources, the former Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt was one of the first in the German-speaking world to use it publicly, in a government statement.
It has played a bigger role in medicine since the 1980s. In the USA, Tibor Scitovsky linked the development of increasing consumption without a corresponding increase in satisfaction among people in affluent societies with the term joyless economy. His work mainly focused on the relationship between consumption and joie de vivre.
Discussion of terms
The definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) includes the subjective aspects of the individual and reads: "Quality of life is the subjective perception of a person about their position in life in relation to the culture and the value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, Expectations, standards and concerns. "
- “There are different views on the question of which areas count towards quality of life. According to a basic WHO definition, quality of life based on “health” comprises the physical, psychological and social well-being of an individual (WHO 1949). Several authors emphasize that quality of life does not include the objective availability of material and immaterial things, but rather the degree to which a desired state of physical, psychological and social well-being is actually achieved. "
Standard of living expresses the real level of ownership and consumption of goods and services and can be measured objectively as a quantitative parameter. Accordingly, the material wealth and physical well-being for a person, a social group, a social class, a certain area or a state is made comparable.
If the frame of reference is expanded to include non-economic needs that are difficult to measure, such as social belonging or self-fulfillment, one speaks of quality of life (from the point of view of society) or well-being (from the point of view of the individual).
Measurement of quality of life
There are different theoretical approaches to the measurability of quality of life. “The objectivists start from the basic assumption that there are identifiable basic needs, the satisfaction of which determines well-being. The observable living conditions can be evaluated by outsiders according to scientific or moral standards. ”This theory has found its way into the politics of the so-called welfare states. The subjectivists, on the other hand, emphasize the individual perception of one's own life situation. “The American Quality of Life research is of the opinion that quality of life is increasingly determined by immaterial values in the course of social development. Since happiness, satisfaction and fears can only be assessed by the citizens themselves, the quality of life must also be measured through their questioning. B. determine so-called happiness indicators, with which the subjective well-being is brought into a number comparable over time and place.
Another aspect of quality of life, time prosperity , which includes free time, is examined in this context. It can be measured using objective factors such as weekly and annual working hours and the extent of family obligations, or through surveys on subjective factors such as the perception of lack of time. Quality of life in the sense of self-determined time is sometimes referred to as the “true luxury” of modern Central Europeans.
Quality of life can be measured individually and collectively. For this, the parameters of quality of life must be sufficiently defined. Both their determination and the preparatory definition of appropriate norms are the subject of human conflicts. The Oral Health Impact Profile, for example, is a questionnaire for measuring oral health- related quality of life. One reason for difficulties in the measurement is the large number of possible parameters with different weightings. But there are also evaluation procedures for such data.
Statistical offices collect and agglomerate data that are indicators of quality of life. In Germany this is done by 14 regional statistical offices and the Federal Statistical Office ; Eurostat does this at EU level ; at UN level UNSTATS (list of many statistical offices , see Statistical Service ).
Two guidelines for the action of statistical offices in the EU are the "GDP and Beyond" Communication and the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission report . Within Eurostat, a 'Sponsorship Group on Measuring Progress, Well-being and Sustainable Development' is working on, among other things, adapt the statistics to changing information needs and increase their informative value with regard to well-being and sustainable development .
Up until the 1970s, life followed a given path. Church, state and society specified a canon of values . That meant a lot of orientation for the individual but few options. From the 1970s onwards, a strong trend towards individualization began, which included many options, but offered little orientation due to the resulting universe of values. Quality of life is suitable as an ideal guiding value because, in contrast to the sometimes very ideological values, it has the ability to connect (collective aspect) and at the same time allows individual leeway.
Research by Richard A. Easterlin , based on survey results in North America, indicated that the hypothesis of a long-term, individually fixed value of quality of life (an individual target value or “set point” ) must be put into perspective. In the long term, quality of life is little influenced by economic factors, which is due to the fact that people largely adapt to the new conditions almost completely; in contrast, changes in health and family would have long-term effects, as they were only partially adapted to new conditions. Easterlin concluded that individuals would do well to devote more time to family and health when possible. However, whether these factors actually have an influence in the sense of a cause-effect relationship is a matter of dispute.
Democracy and quality of life
Life is better in federal and direct democratic communities. This was the result of a survey of 6000 Swiss people. The associated increased autonomy and participation of the citizens increases their quality of life considerably. The interesting thing is that the opportunity to participate, the process benefit, is even more important for the quality of life than the result of the political process itself. In addition, due to better control and responsibility, the measures of the politicians are more oriented towards the preferences of the citizens, which also improves the quality of life.
Economic and social policy relevance
Using economic growth as a welfare or quality of life indicator can lead to distorted economic policy measures. Economic growth and rising incomes do not necessarily mean a higher quality of life. Easterlin was able to show that, although per capita income in the West has risen considerably in recent decades, this has had little impact on the subjectively perceived well-being of citizens (Easterlin Paradox). In Japan, the gross domestic product increased sixfold between 1958 and 1991 , and average life satisfaction remained constant. US GDP rose 20% from 1970 to the mid-1990s, while subjective wellbeing fell slightly. For a sample of twelve European countries, no significant correlation between GDP and life satisfaction could be found between 1975 and 1991. In China, real per capita income rose by a factor of 2.5 between 1994 and 2005, but life satisfaction has fallen. Quality of life as a key economic policy parameter would have the potential to trigger a growth surge comparable to that of information and communication technology.
Quality of life offers not only an alternative measure of welfare, but also an alternative measure of justice and thus a different form of social policy in contrast to the traditional one, which is based on the concept of care. The concept of quality of life plays a special role in connection with the issues of old age, disability, euthanasia , life support and palliative care . It is controversial which basic claim to a minimum quality of life a society should grant to an individual. As part of its annual sustainability indicator survey, Great Britain has also been determining indicators for quality of life for the last two years ; for example, citizens are asked about their general satisfaction, their fear of crime, their trust in their fellow citizens, sporting activity or the use of parks.
A high quality of life in connection with research institutions is an essential factor for higher added value or as the basis for start-up companies and business start-ups (also with the possible consequences of gentrification).
Health policy relevance
The WHO sees quality of life as an overarching goal of health promotion . The Bangkok Charter states: “The United Nations recognizes that achieving the highest possible health standards is one of the fundamental rights of all people without distinction. Health promotion is based on this essential human right. This positive and comprehensive concept understands health as a determining factor for quality of life including psychological and spiritual well-being. ”In medicine there is the model of the“ health-related quality of life ”for specific diseases. The “Quality of Life Concept” was developed for workplace health promotion. In the care and support of people with an incurable and progressive disease, quality of life is a positive counter-concept to curative and life-prolonging treatment. Palliative treatment strives to alleviate symptoms as well as to improve the patient's quality of life the preservation of their dignity and self-determination.
Quality of Life and Cancer
The widespread disease of cancer requires the opinion of physicians and oncologists to improve the quality of life for cancer patients in the Federal Republic. With this aim, the German Cancer Aid has been supporting the "LinDe Study" at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg since 2013 with donations of 356,000 euros. Scientists question over 10,000 healthy and sick people in all federal states about their quality of life. The scientists want to “record the impairment of quality of life caused by cancer and research ways of avoiding these impairments.” The aim is to improve the medical and psychosocial care of those affected. According to the latest statistics from the Robert Koch Institute , more than 490,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer every year. The trend is increasing. By 2050 this number could increase by a third.
Remedial educational relevance
The concept of quality of life is of paramount importance in curative education . It has been considered the key concept of quality development for facilities for people with disabilities internationally for several years . The concept of quality of life is not only able to bring the basic needs of people with disabilities and those of the carers into a systematic context, but also has a high level of practical creative power in the everyday life of special education institutions. The main factors both for people with disabilities and for carers are the experience of autonomy, competence, social integration (participation) and meaning.
- Study Commission Growth, Prosperity, Quality of Life
- enjoyment of life
- Mercer studies
- Quality-corrected year of life
- Quality time
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