Measuring Quality of Life—An Idea Whose Time Has Come? Agenda-Setting Dynamics in Britain and the European Union

  • Ian BacheEmail author
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


Measuring quality of life has recently risen rapidly up the political agenda in a range of political arenas. In Britain this was signalled most clearly by Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement in November 2010 that well-being measures would be used for public policy purposes. In the European Union context this shift was indicated by a Commission communication to the Council and European Parliament in 2009, GDP and Beyond , which sets out a roadmap with five key actions to improve the indicators for measuring progress. These initiatives, along with other national and international developments, signal discontent with GDP growth as the dominant measure of societal progress and suggest that in some respects at least, concern with measuring quality of life is an idea whose time has come. This chapter seeks to explain how and why this issue has risen up the political agenda in Britain and the EU , drawing on Kingdon’s multiple streams approach to agenda-setting . The chapter has six sections. Section 11.2 outlines the approach to comparing agenda-setting, distinguishing between Kingdon’s three ‘streams’ of activity—policies, politics and problems. Section 11.3 discusses the historical background to current political concerns with measuring quality of life, identifying two waves that have distinct characteristics. Section 11.4 turns to the case of Britain and Sect. 11.5 to that of the EU. Section 11.6 provides a comparative analysis of developments in the UK and EU before the paper concludes.


Measuring quality of life Measuring well-being David Cameron GDP and beyond Office for national statistics Comparing agenda-setting Measuring life satisfaction in the United Kingdom (UK), European Union (EU) 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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