Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 55–82 | Cite as

Towards the Good Life: A Population Survey of Dimensions of Quality of Life

  • Ann Bowling
  • Joy Windsor
Article

Abstract

The aim of the analyses presented here was to explore subjective and objective components and predictors of self-rated quality of life (QoL). The vehicle for the study was a questionnaire module on perceptions of quality of life, which was commissioned by the authors for inclusion in the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Omnibus Survey in Great Britain. For the survey, 2033 randomly sampled adults aged 16 and over were interviewed in their own homes (77% response rate). Multiple regression analyses showed that relatively little of the variance in overall QoL ratings was explained by the objective, socio-demographic indicators (5%), and the addition of the health status indicator (reported longstanding illness) contributed nothing. The subjective ratings of life in self-nominated areas of importance explained the most, with those who did not prioritise the area at all as the referent (relationships, finances, own health, others' health, work and social life). These variables contributed over twice as much as the objective and health status variables, indicating the relative importance of self-nominated 'important areas of life' over theoretically important, objective variables and reported illness. However, the final model still only explained a modest amount of the variance in quality of life ratings (16%), confirming the amorphous nature of quality of life.

health life satisfaction quality of life well-being 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Andrews, F.M: 1974, 'Social indicators of perceived life quality', Social Indicators Research 1, pp. 279–299.Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, F.M. and R. Crandall: 1976, 'The validity of measures of self-reported well-being', Social Indicators Research 3, pp. 1–19.Google Scholar
  3. Argyle, M., M. Martin and L. Lu: 1955, 'Testing for stress and happiness: the role of social and cognitive factors', in C.D. Spielberger and I.G. Sarason (eds.), Stress and Emotion, vol. 15 (Taylor and Francis, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  4. Bentham, J.: 1834/reprinted 1983, Deonotology (Clarendon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  5. Bowling, A.: 1994, 'Social networks and social support among older people and implications for emotional well-being and psychiatric morbidity', International Review of Psychiatry 6, pp. 41–58.Google Scholar
  6. Bowling, A.: 1995a, Measuring Disease. A Review of Disease Specific Quality of Life Measurement Scales (Open University Press, Buckingham), pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  7. Bowling, A: 1995b, 'What things are important in people's lives?Asurvey of the public's judgements to inform scales of health related quality of life', Social Science and Medicine, special issue of 'Quality of Life' 10, pp. 1447–1462.Google Scholar
  8. Bowling, A.: 1996a, 'The effects of illness on quality of life: Findings from a survey of households in Great Britain', Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 50, pp. 149–55.Google Scholar
  9. Bowling, A.: 1996b, 'The most important things in life. Comparisons between older and younger population age groups by gender. Results from a national survey of the public's judgements', International Journal of Health Sciences 6, pp. 169–75.Google Scholar
  10. Bowling, A.: 1997, Measuring health. A review of quality of life measurement scales. 2nd ed. (Open University Press, Buckingham), pp. 1–8.Google Scholar
  11. Bowling, A. and P.D. Browne: 1991, 'Social networks, health and emotional wellbeing among the oldest old in London', Journal of Gerontology 46, pp. S20–32.Google Scholar
  12. Bowling, A. and A. Cartwright: 1982, Life after a Death. A Study of the Elderly Widowed (Tavistock Publications, London), pp. 141–166.Google Scholar
  13. Bowling, A., M. Farquhar and E. Grundy: 1996, 'Associations with changes in life satisfaction among three samples of elderly people living at home', International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 11, pp. 1077–1087.Google Scholar
  14. Brickman, P. and D.T. Campbell: 1971, 'Hedonic relativism and planning the good society', in M.H. Appley (ed). Adaptation-level Theory (Academic Press, New York).Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, A., P.E. Converse and W.L. Rogers: 1976, The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations, and Satisfaction. (Russell Sage; New York).Google Scholar
  16. Charlton, J., M.Wallace and I. White: 1994 'Long term illness: results from the 1991 Census', Population Trends 75, pp. 18–25.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, A.E., and A. J. Oswald: 1996, 'Satisfaction and comparison income', Journal of Public Economics 61, pp. 359–381.Google Scholar
  18. Costa, P.T. and R.R. McCrae: 1984, 'Personality as a lifelong determinant of well-being', in C. Lalatesta and C. Izard (eds), Affective Processes in Adult Development and Aging (Sage, Beverly Hills, CA).Google Scholar
  19. Diener, E., M. Diener and C. Diener: 1995, 'Factors predicting the subjective wellbeing of nations', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, pp: 851–64.Google Scholar
  20. Easterlin, R.A.: 1995, 'Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?', Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation 27, pp. 35–47.Google Scholar
  21. Evans, D.R and W.E. Cope: 1989, Quality of Life Questionnaire Manual (Multi-Health Systems, Toronto).Google Scholar
  22. Flanagan, S.C.: 1982 'Measuring value change in advanced industrial societies: A rejoinder to Inglehart', Comparative Political Studies 15, pp. 99–128.Google Scholar
  23. Foster, K., B. Jackson, M. Thomas, P. Hunter and N. Bennet: 1995, General Household Survey 1993. Office of Population Statistics and Censuses (Her Majesty's stationary Office, London), pp. 5–27,52-55,78.Google Scholar
  24. Garratt, A.M. and D.A. Ruta: 1999, 'The patient generated index', in: C.R.B Joyce, C.A. O'Boyle and H. McGee (eds.), Individual Quality of Life. Approaches to Conceptualisation and Assessment (Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam), pp. 105–118.Google Scholar
  25. Gill, T.M. and A.R. Feinstein: 1994, 'A critical appraisal of the quality of life measurements', Journal of the American Medical Association 272, pp.619–626.Google Scholar
  26. Headey, B.W. and A. Wearing: 1989, 'Personality, life events, and subjective wellbeing: toward a dynamic equilibrium model', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57, pp.1–9.Google Scholar
  27. Headey, B.W. and A. Wearing: 1992, Understanding Happiness: A Theory of Subjective Well-being (Longman Cheshire, Melbourne).Google Scholar
  28. Headey, B.W., T. Glowacki, E.L. Holmstrom and A.J. Wearing: 1985, 'Modelling change in perceived quality of life', Social Indicators Research 17, pp. 276–298.Google Scholar
  29. Hickey, A, C.A. O'Boyle, H.M. McGee, C.R.B. Joyce: 1999, 'The schedule for the evaluation of individual quality of life', in C.R.B. Joyce, C.A. O'Boyle and H. McGee (eds.), Individual Quality of Life. Approaches to Conceptualisation and Assessment (Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam), pp. 119–134.Google Scholar
  30. H¨ornquist, J.O.: 1982, 'The concept of quality of life', Scandanavian Journal of Social Medicine 10, pp. 57–61.Google Scholar
  31. Inglehart, J.: 1990, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton University Press, Princeton).Google Scholar
  32. Inglehart, R and J.R. Rabier: 1986, 'Aspirations adapt to situations – But why are the Belgians so much happier than the French? A cross-cultural analysis of the subjective quality of life', in F.M. Andrews (ed.), Research on the Quality of Life. Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research (University of Michigan, Michigan), pp. 1–56.Google Scholar
  33. Jenkinson, C., S. Ziebland, R. Fitzpatrick, A. Mowa and A. Mowat: 1991, 'Sensitivity to change of weighted and unweighted versions of two health status measures', International Journal of Health Sciences 2, pp. 189–194.Google Scholar
  34. Joyce, C.R.B., H.M. McGe and C.A. O'Boyle: 1999, 'Individual quality of life: Reviewand outlook', in C.R.B. Joyce, C.A. O'Boyle and H.McGee(eds.), Individual Quality of Life. Approaches to Conceptualisation and Assessment (Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam), pp. 215–224.Google Scholar
  35. Kish, L.: 1949, 'Aprocedure for objective respondent selection within the household', Journal of the American Statistical Association, 44, pp. 380–387.Google Scholar
  36. Kohn, R., and K.L. White: 1976, Health Care: An International Study (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  37. Kushman, J. and S. Lane: 1980, 'Amultivariate analysis of factors affecting perceived life satisfaction and psychological well-being among the elderly', Social Science Quarterly 61, pp. 264–277.Google Scholar
  38. Larson, R.: 1978, 'Thirty years of research on the subjective well-being of older Americans', Journal of Gerontology 33, pp. 109–25.Google Scholar
  39. Manderback, K.: 1998, 'How do respondents understand survey questions on illhealth?', European Journal of Public Health 8, pp. 319–324.Google Scholar
  40. Markides, K.S. and H.W. Martin: 1979, 'A causal model of life satisfaction among the elderly', Journal of Gerontology 34 pp. 86–93.Google Scholar
  41. Rosenberg, R.: 1992, 'Quality of life, ethics, and philosophy of science' Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 46, pp. 75–77.Google Scholar
  42. McLanahan, S. and J. Adams: 1987, 'Parenthood and psychological well-being', Annual Review of Sociology 5, pp. 237–57.Google Scholar
  43. Michalos, A.C.: 1986, 'Job satisfaction, marital satisfaction, and the quality of life: A review and preview', in F.M. Andrews (ed.), Research on the Quality of Life. Michigan: Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research (University of Michigan, Michigan), pp. 57–84.Google Scholar
  44. Mroczek, D.K. and C.M. Kolarz: 1998, 'The effect of age on positive and negative affect: A developmental perspective on happiness', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75, pp. 1333–1349.Google Scholar
  45. Olson, J.M.: 1996, 'Resentment about deprivation: Entitlement and hopefulness as mediators of the effects of qualifications', in J.M. Olson, C.P. Herman, and M.P. Zanna (eds.), Relative Deprivation and Social Comparison, The Ontario Symposium, vol. 4 (Lawrence Erlbaum, New Jersey).Google Scholar
  46. Oswald, A.J. and R.H. Frank: 1997, 'Happiness and economic performance.', The Economic Journal 107, pp. 1815–1831.Google Scholar
  47. Ross, C.E. and J. Huber: 1985, 'Hardship and depression', Journal of Health and Social Behavior 26, pp. 312–27.Google Scholar
  48. Ross, C.E., J. Mirowsky and K. Goldsteen: 1990, 'The impact of the family on health: The decade in review', Journal of Marriage and the Family 52, pp. 1059–1078.Google Scholar
  49. Ross, C.E., and M. Van Willigen: 1997, 'Education and subjective quality of life', Journal of Health and Social Behavior 38, pp. 275–297.Google Scholar
  50. Usui, W.M., J.K. Thomas and K.R. Durig: 1985, 'Socioeconomic comparisons and life satisfaction of elderly adults', Journal of Gerontology 40, pp. 110–114.Google Scholar
  51. Veenhoven, R.: 1991, 'Is happiness relative?', Social Indicators Research 24, pp. 1–34.Google Scholar
  52. Veenhoven, R.: 1993, Happiness in Nations: Subjective Appreciation of Life in 56 Nations 1946–1992 (RISBO, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands), pp. 48–49.Google Scholar
  53. Waters, W.E., E. Heikinen and A.S. Dontas: 1989, Health, lifestyles and services for the elderly. Public Health in Europe No. 29 (World Health Organisation, Copenhagen).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Bowling
  • Joy Windsor

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations