Social Indicators Research

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 245–281 | Cite as

Basic Minimum Needs, Quality of Life and Selected Correlates: Explorations in Villages in Northern India

  • Merlin B. Brinkerhoff
  • Kelly a. Fredell
  • James S. Frideres

Abstract

For those involved in international development, one of the major goals is an improvement in the quality of life of the poor. Bhargava and Chakrabati (1992: 133) see the “primary objective of development at any given time is to improve the quality of life”. Indeed, the mission statement for an international development organization explicitly commits itself to the improvement of the quality of life for the “poorest of the poor” (DID, 1994). Social indicators, as “transeconomic” measures of quality of life, have “become an integral part of 'development indicators”' (Kao and Liu, 1984: 400; see, also Kahn, 1991). The connection between quality of life and development extends beyond the Third World. For example, in the U.S. Myers (1987) found quality of life influenced inmigration to Austin, Texas, thus affecting its economic development.

Undoubtedly the majority of the connections between social indicators and development has been examined at the macro, or national levels using economic, health, education and other objective, comparative indices. Recognizing that such measures as GNP are oftentimes inadequate, assorted indices have been derived to gauge the changes in social development over time, e.g., the well-known Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) constructed by the Overseas Development Council (Morris, 1976). Many of these tend to focus on objective, material indicators (commodity possessions) as opposed to the more subjective ones (Anand and Ravallion, 1993). It is not the purpose of this paper to examine the various critics' arguments about the strengths and weaknesses of extant macro versus micro indices, but rather to lend support for the general need to assess development and social change through social indicators, whether macro or micro, objective or subjective. Ultimately, the purpose of the assessment should guide which social indicators are selected.

The purpose of this paper is to examine several issues arising from the linkages between development efforts and quality of life (QOL). Using empirical data which were gathered to evaluate a community development project in the Garhwal region of Northern India, several issues, germane to both social indicators and development, will be investigated. These include: (1) the relationship between “Basic Minimum Needs” (BMNs) and QOL, (2) some methodological innovations for measuring both BMNs and QOL, and (3) selected correlates of BMNs and social indicators of QOL for Garhwali villagers. Before describing the project and its findings, we will first place it in the overall development context.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merlin B. Brinkerhoff
    • 1
  • Kelly a. Fredell
    • 1
  • James S. Frideres
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of International Development and the Department of SociologyUniversity of CalgaryCanada

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