, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 1-96

Quality of Life Indexes for National Policy: Review and Agenda for Research

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Abstract

A number of governments and public policy institutes have developed “Quality of Life Indexes” – statistics that attempt to measure the quality of life for entire states or regions. We develop 14 criteria for determining the validity and usefulness of such QOL indexes to public policy. We then review 22 of the most-used QOL indexes from around the world. We conclude that many of the indexes are successful in that they are reliable, have established time series measures, and can be disaggregated to study subpopulations. However, many fall short in four areas: (1) indexes vary greatly in their coverage and definitions of domains of QOL, (2) none of the indexes distinguish among the concepts of input, throughput, and output that are used by public policy analysts, (3) they fail to show how QOL outputs are sensitive to public policy inputs, and (4) none have examined convergent validity against each other. We conclude that many of these indexes are potentially very useful for public policy and recommend research to further improve them.