Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 323–349 | Cite as

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

Article

Abstract

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.

progress quality of life happiness optimism pessimism social indicators forecasting world view evolution development. 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Bernheim J.:1995, 'Quality of life, or qualities of life? A critique, and a plea for emphasized global assessment of QOL', Quality of Life Research 3, pp. 155–156.Google Scholar
  2. Bernheim J.: 1999a, 'How to Get Serious Answers to the Serious Question: “How have you been?”: Subjective Quality of Life (QOL) as an Individual Experiential Emergent Construct', Bioethics 13, 3 & 4.Google Scholar
  3. Bernheim J.: 1999b, 'The Cognitive Revolution and 21st Century Enlightenment: towards a contemporary evolutionary progressive world view', in D. Aerts, S. Gutwirth, S. Smets, and L. Van Langenhove (eds.), Science, Technology and Social Change (Kluwer Academic Press, Dordrecht), pp. 63–96.Google Scholar
  4. Bernheim J. and M. Buyse: 1984, 'Anamnestic comparative self assessment (ACSA): Amethod to measure the subjective quality of life of cancer patients'. J. Psychosoc. Oncol. 1, pp. 25–38.Google Scholar
  5. Brickman P. and D.T. Campbell: 1971, 'Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society', in Appley M.H. (ed.), Adaptation-Level Theory: A Symposium, (Academic Press, New York), pp. 287–302.Google Scholar
  6. Buckminster Fuller R.: 1969, Utopia or Oblivion, (Bantam, New York).Google Scholar
  7. Bulmahn T.: 2000, 'Modernity and Happiness: the case of Germany', Journal of Happiness Studies (this issue).Google Scholar
  8. Bury J.B.: 1955, The Idea of Progress. An inquiry into its origin and growth, (Dover, New York).Google Scholar
  9. Chesnais J-C.: 1995, 'Worldwide historical trends in murder and suicide', in J.L. Simon (ed.), pp. 91–97.Google Scholar
  10. Cummins, R.A.: 2000, Objective and subjective quality of life: An interactive model. Social Indicators Research (in press).Google Scholar
  11. Easterlin R.A. 1974, 'Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence', in P.A. David and W.R. Melvin (eds.), Nations and Household in Economic Growth, (Stanford University, Palo Alto), pp. 98–125.Google Scholar
  12. Easterly W. 1998, Life During Growth: International Evidence on Quality of Life and Per Capita Income (World Bank Working Paper, WPS 2110).Google Scholar
  13. Ehrlich P.R.: 1976a, The End of Affluence: A Blueprint for Your Future (Amereon Ltd).Google Scholar
  14. Ehrlich P.R.: 1976b, The Population Bomb (Amereon Ltd).Google Scholar
  15. Emmott B.: 1999, Survey: the 20th Century, The Economist, Sept. 11, 1999.Google Scholar
  16. Estes R.: 1984, The Social Progress of Nations (Praeger, New York).Google Scholar
  17. Flynn J.R.: 1987, 'Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: what IQ tests really measure', Psychological Bulletin 101:2, pp. 171–191.Google Scholar
  18. Grossarth-Maticek R. and H.J. Eysenck.: 1995, 'Self-regulation and mortality from cancer, coronary heart disease, and other causes: a prospective study', Personality and Individual Differences 19(6), pp. 781–795Google Scholar
  19. Hagerty M.R. and Veenhoven R.: 1999, 'Wealth and happiness revisited: Growing wealth of nations does go with greater happiness', Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, submitted.Google Scholar
  20. Heylighen F.: 1992, 'A cognitive-systemic reconstruction of Maslow's theory of selfactualization', Behavioral Science 37, pp. 39–58.Google Scholar
  21. Heylighen F.: 1999, 'The growth of structural and functional complexity during evolution', in F. Heylighen, J. Bollen and A. Riegler (eds.), The Evolution of Complexity (Kluwer, Dordrecht).Google Scholar
  22. Heylighen F. and J. Bernheim: 2000, 'Global Progress II: evolutionary mechanisms and their side-effects', Journal of Happiness Studies (this issue)Google Scholar
  23. Holen A.: 1995, 'The history of accident rates in the United States', in J.L. Simon (ed.), The State of Humanity (Blackwell, Oxford), pp. 98–105.Google Scholar
  24. Marx L. and Mazlish B. (eds.): 1996, Progress: Fact or Illusion? (Univ of Michigan Press).Google Scholar
  25. Maslow A.: 1970, Motivation and Personality (2nd ed.), (Harper and Row, NewYork).Google Scholar
  26. Meadows, D.H and D.L. Meadows: 1972, Limits to Growth (Signet, New York).Google Scholar
  27. Morris M.D. 1979, Measuring the conditions of the world's poor: the physical quality of life index, (Pergamon, New York).Google Scholar
  28. Nesbit R. 1980, History of the Idea of Progress, (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar
  29. Peeters P. 1979, Can we Avoid a Third World War in 2010? (Holmes and Meier, London).Google Scholar
  30. Rose M., G. Scholler, B.P. Klapp and J. Bernheim: 1998, 'Weighting dimensions in “Generic” QOL questionnaires by anamnestic comparative self-assessment: different weights in different diseases', Quality of Life Research 7, pp. 655.Google Scholar
  31. Saris W.E.: 1996, 'Integration of data and theory: a mixed model of satisfaction', inW.E. Saris, R. Veenhoven, A.C. Scherpenzeel and B. Bunting eds.): A comparative study of satisfaction with life in Europe', (Eötvös University Press, Budapest), pp. 281–298.Google Scholar
  32. Simon J.L. and R. Boggs: 1995, 'Trends in the quantities of education–USA and elsewhere', in Simon J.L. (ed.), pp. 224–230.Google Scholar
  33. Simon J.L.: (ed.) 1995, The State of Humanity (Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  34. Tierney J.: 1990,: 'Betting the Planet', New York Times Magazine, December 2, 1990, pp. 52.Google Scholar
  35. United Nations Development Programme: 1999, Human Development Report (Oxford University Press, New York).Google Scholar
  36. United Nations Population Division 1994, World Population Prospects: the 1994 Revision (United Nations, New York).Google Scholar
  37. van Doren C.: 1967, The Idea of Progress, (Praeger, New York).Google Scholar
  38. Veenhoven R.: 1991, 'Is Happiness relative?' Social Indicators Research, 24, pp. 1–34.Google Scholar
  39. Veenhoven R.: 1994a, 'Correlates of Happiness: 7838 findings from 603 studies in 69 nations, 1911–1994' (3 volumes), RISBO, Series Studies in Social and Cultural Transformation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2028 pages (also available electronically at http://www.eur.nl/fsw/soc/happiness.html).Google Scholar
  40. Veenhoven R.: 1995, 'World Database of Happiness', Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 299–313.Google Scholar
  41. Veenhoven R.: 1996a, 'Happy life-expectancy. A comprehensive measure of qualityof-life in nations', Social Indicators Research 39, pp. 1–58.Google Scholar
  42. Veenhoven R.: 1996b, 'The study of life-satisfaction', in W.E. Saris, R. Veenhoven, A.C. Scherpenzeel and B. Bunting (eds.): A comparative study of satisfaction with life in Europe';, (E7#x00F6;tvös University Press, Budapest), pp. 11–48.Google Scholar
  43. Veenhoven, R.: 1997, Progrés dans la compréhension du bonheur. Revue Québécoise de Psychologie, vol 18, nr 2, pp. 29–74.Google Scholar
  44. Ware J.E, K.K Snow, M. Kosinski, and B. Gandek: 1993, SF-36 health survey: Manual and Interpretation Guide (The Health Institute, New England Medical Centre, Boston).Google Scholar
  45. Warren Wagar W.:1972, Good Tidings. The belief in progress from Darwin to Marcuse, (Indiana University Press, Bloomington).Google Scholar
  46. White M.: 1999, 'Wous, Massacres and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century' (http://users.erobs.com/mwhite28/war-1900.html)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations