Social Indicators Research

, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 1137–1164 | Cite as

Global Advances in Quality of Life and Well-Being: Past, Present, and Future

  • Richard J. EstesEmail author
  • M. Joseph Sirgy


This paper documents global progress in human well-being since the end of World War II and, more specifically, since 1950. The paper focuses on the transformative changes in quality of life that have occurred over this period in four of the most critical sectors of well-being: the health, education, economic, and welfare sectors. We also consider the significant impact that changes in the natural environment have and continue to make on humanity. In all five sectors we also identify what we regard as the underlying “drivers” that have made these transformative changes in the human condition possible and suggest how the strength of these changes can be expected to contribute to the further enhancement of quality of life and well-being over at least the near term. In pursuing these objectives, we argued in favor of adopting a more positive view with respect to the advances in quality of life and well-being that have taken place since 1950.


Quality of life Well-being History Progress Positivism Health well-being Educational well-being Economic well-being Social welfare Environmental well-being 



The authors thank Harry Halloran, Joseph “Tony” Carr, and Audrey Selian of the Halloran Philanthropies in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania for their suggestions concerning the content of earlier drafts of this paper as well the reviewers and editor of Social Indicators Research for helping us further develop this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Portions of the research reported in this paper were partially supported by a grant from the Halloran Philanthropies of West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania USA. The authors will not receive any form of remuneration associated with the publication of paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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