What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrialized Nations?

What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrialized Nations?

Edited by Edward N. Wolff

The contributors to this volume investigate to what extent welfare has increased in the United States over the postwar period and provide a rigorous examination of both conventional measures of the standard of living, as well as more inclusive indices. The chapters cover such topics as: race, home ownership and family structure; the status of children; the consumer price index; a historical perspective on the standard of living; worker rights and labor strength in advanced economies. In addition, they explore two economic systems delivering the goods – the free enterprise system of the United States and the European social welfare state. They then present international comparisons and highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of these two systems.

Chapter 12: Measuring Quality of Life with Local Indicators

Daphne T. Greenwood

Subjects: economics and finance, welfare economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Daphne T. Greenwood INTRODUCTION Concern with the quality of life in the United States and other industrialized nations has led to a variety of local projects addressing this issue. Many community-based indicator projects have moved beyond traditional economic measures of well-being. The locally-based approach has both advantages and problems, as this chapter outlines. Three communities – Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; and Seattle, Washington – stand out from the many projects around the United States in developing indicators that incorporate economic, environmental and social factors as well as linkages among them. This chapter reviews the results of the three projects, with more detail presented in the appendices. In addition, recommendations are made as to how local indicators could be more useful and more accurate measures of the quality of life. While some things can be learned from the changes in these local indicators, it is difficult to extrapolate from the results of only three communities to assess whether quality of life is improving as a whole in the United States. In this chapter, we suggest conclusions that can reasonably be drawn from the results presented here and from other studies comparing quality of life in various cities across the United States. WHY QUANTIFY ‘QUALITY OF LIFE’? Sustained economic growth in the United States and other industrialized countries has led to renewed interest in quality of life as well as income levels. Economists once assumed that educational and health needs would be addressed as a byproduct of income growth, but cross-country comparisons show...

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