Social Indicators Research

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 147–160 | Cite as

Quality of Life Measurement and Application to Policy: Experiences from the UK Office for National Statistics

  • Abigail SelfEmail author


This paper outlines the Office for National Statistics’ approach to measuring quality of life and its application to UK policy. It focuses on the value of stakeholder engagement and presentation for embedding concepts and fostering legitimacy for outputs and provides examples of how quality of life is starting to be used within UK policy.


Quality of life Well-being Stakeholder engagement UK policy 


  1. Aked J., Marks N., Cordon C., & Thompson S. (2008). Five ways to well-being: The evidence. Centre for Well-being, New economics foundation, London.
  2. Allardt, E. (1993). Having, loving, being: An alternative to the Swedish model of welfare research. In M. Nussbaum & A. Sen (Eds.), The quality of life (pp. 88–94). Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Deiner, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward and economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5(1), 2–3.Google Scholar
  4. Department for Food and Rural Affairs. (2005). Securing the futureDelivering UK Government sustainable development strategy. Her Majesty’s Government, London.
  5. Dolan, P., Layard, R., & Metcalfe, R. (2011). Measuring subjective well-being for public policy. Special paper no. 23, Centre for Economic Performance.
  6. Fujiwara, D., & Campbell, R. (2011). Valuation techniques for social cost benefit analysis: Stated preference, revealed preference and subjective well-being approaches. HM Treasury and Department for Work and Pensions.
  7. Government Office for Science. (2008). Foresight mental capital and wellbeing project. Final project report—Executive summary, London.
  8. Hicks, S. (2011a). Spotlight on: Subjective well-being. Office for National Statistics.
  9. Hicks, S (2011b). New approaches to the measurement of quality of life. Director Generals of the National Statistical Institutes (DGINS) conference: New conceptual design for household and social statistics, Wiesbaden 27th September 2011.
  10. House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. (2013). Well-being—Written evidence (pp. 63–109), London.
  11. Huppert, F., et al. (2009). Measuring well-being across Europe: Description of the ESS Well-being module and preliminary findings. Social Indicators Research, 91, 301–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kroll, C., & Delhey, J. (2013). A happy nation? Opportunities and challenges of using subjective indicators in policymaking. Social Indicators Research, 114, 13–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kuznets, S. (1934). National income, 1929–1932. 73rd US Congress, 2d session, Senate document no. 124, page 7.,888
  14. McManus, S., Mowlam, A., Dorsett, R., Stansfeld, S., Clark, C., Brown, V., et al. (2012). Mental health in context: The national study of work-search and wellbeing. Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 810.
  15. NatCen Social Research, Office for Public Management and New Philanthropy Capital. (2012). Evaluation of the national citizenship service pilots: Interim report.
  16. NatCen Social Research, Office for Public Management and New Philanthropy Capital. (2013). Evaluation of national citizen service: Findings from the evaluation of the 2012 summer and autumn NCS programmes.
  17. National Archives. (2012). Public services (social value) act 2012, chapter 3.
  18. Nef. (2011). Measuring our progress. New economics foundation, London.
  19. Nissel, M. (1970). Social trends, (Vol. 1). Central Statistics Office, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.Google Scholar
  20. ONS. (2011). Measuring what matters, National Statistician’s Reflections on the National Debate on Measuring National well-being.
  21. ONS. (2013). Well-being wheel of measures. Office for National Statistics.
  22. Parfit, D. (1984). Reasons and persons. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Self, A. (2014). Measuring national well-being: Insights across society, the economy and the environment, 2014. Office for National Statistics.
  24. Self, A., Thomas J., & Randall, C. (2012). Measuring national well-being: Life in the UK 2012. Office for National Statistics.
  25. Stiglitz J., Sen A., & Fitoussi, J. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress.
  26. Treasury, H. M. (2009). Progress and next steps. Civil Service Capability Review.
  27. UK Cabinet Office. (2010). Prime Minister’s speech, launch of the UK measuring national well-being programme, 25th November 2010.
  28. UK Parliament. (2000). Local Government Act 2000, Chapter 22. Part 1: Promotion of economic, social or environmental well-being.
  29. Veenhoven, R. (2001). Why social policy needs subjective indicators. Berlin: Discussion Paper Series Social Science Research Centre Berlin.Google Scholar
  30. Waldron, S. (2010). Measuring subjective wellbeing in the UK. Office for National Statistics.
  31. Watson, D., Pichler, F., & Wallace, C. (2010). Subjective Well-being in Europe, Second European Quality of Life Survey. European Foundation for the improvement of Living and Working Conditions.Google Scholar
  32. Zapf, W. (2000). Social reporting in the 1970s and in the 1990s. Social Indicators Research, 51, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office for National StatisticsNewportUK

Personalised recommendations