Social Indicators Research

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 279-299

First online:

Social indicators of perceived life quality

  • Frank M. AndrewsAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan

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Modern societies in both developing and developed countries have real and legitimate concerns about the enhancement, maintenance, and redistribution of individual well-being. Indicators of perceived well-being provide direct measures of what societies are trying to achieve, permit cross-sector comparisons, can indicate the adequacy of coverage of ‘objective’ indicators, and can contribute to social policy making. in both the long and short run. Some commentators, however, have suggested perceptual indicators suffer from methodological weaknesses associated with their validity, interpretability, completeness, and utility. Each of these possible weaknesses is addressed in some detail. New research evidence and certain philosophical perspectives are presented, and it is concluded that none of these presumed weaknesses is sufficient to invalidate the development and use of perceptual indicators. Suggestions are made concerning methodological research needed to support the development of indicators of perceived well-being. It is noted that the materials and results developed in the author's research on Americans' perceptions of life quality may be useful for suggesting approaches to the development of indicators of perceived life quality relevant to other cultures.