Quality of life (QOL) is a concept with no generally accepted definition. Most clinical studies have had an individual approach where demographic and socioeconomic population aspects have not been considered. QOL has hardly ever been used in studies of children. In this study QOL is defined as the essential resources of a child population, expressed in external, inter-personal and personal conditions. Both objective conditions and the corresponding subjective perceptions are included. A model for an empirical application is demonstrated on a random sample of 15,000 children in the five Nordic countries. The data were collected in a questionnaire mailed to the families of the children. The QOL was analysed in a normative way, where a base value was defined for each variable and the conditions of the children were compared to a Nordic standard for children's QOL. The results showed that children in the Nordic countries have a high QOL. The differences between the countries were rather small. Children in Sweden had the highest QOL, closely followed by children in Denmark and Norway, while children in Finland were in an intermediate position and the Icelandic children had the lowest QOL, mainly due to a lower level of satisfaction. This study can be considered as a base line study which later can be used in studies of time trends or in comparisons of groups of children such as children with special needs.