Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 323–349

Global Progress I: Empirical Evidence for ongoing Increase in Quality-of-life


DOI: 10.1023/A:1010099928894

Cite this article as:
Heylighen, F. & Bernheim, J. Journal of Happiness Studies (2000) 1: 323. doi:10.1023/A:1010099928894


This paper argues that both the relativist and the pessimist critiques of the idea of progress are inadequate. Progress is defined as increase in global quality of life (QOL). Such QOL is intrinsically subjective, but not relative. It can be reliably measured through “life satisfaction”-type questions. The “World Database of Happiness” provides extensive data on social, economic and psychological factors that correlate with overall QOL. They include wealth, health, security, knowledge, freedom and equality. Various statistical data suggest that all these QOL indicators have undergone significant improvements during the last half century, in most of the world. This gives strong support to the thesis that progress objectively occurs.

progressquality of lifehappinessoptimismpessimismsocial indicatorsforecastingworld viewevolutiondevelopment.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Free University of BrusselsCenter “Leo Apostel”BrusselsBelgium