Social Indicators Research

, Volume 40, Issue 1–2, pp 189–216 | Cite as


  • Ed Diener
  • Eunkook Suh


Thinkers have discussed the “good life” and the desirable society for millennia. In the last decades, scientists offered several alternative approaches to defining and measuring quality of life: social indicators such as health and levels of crime, subjective well-being measures (assessing people's evaluative reactions to their lives and societies), and economic indices. These alternative indicators assess three philosophical approaches to well-being that are based, respectively, on normative ideals, subjective experiences, and the ability to select goods and services that one desires. The strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches are reviewed. It is argued that social indicators and subjective well-being measures are necessary to evaluate a society, and add substantially to the regnant economic indicators that are now favored by policy makers. Each approach to measuring the quality of life contains information that is not contained in the other measures.


Policy Maker Good Life Subjective Experience Social Indicator Economic Indicator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ed Diener
    • 1
  • Eunkook Suh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignU.S.A

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