Quality of Life

Quality of life is a measure of emotional, financial, physical, and political well-being. It can be used to characterize the well-being of entire societies or of individuals.

What is Quality of Life?

Quality of life is used in two different—but related—contexts.

First, sociologists, psychologists, and human rights advocates sometimes use quality of life measures to assess the well-being of people in a neighborhood, region, or nation. These quality of life measures can provide useful information about the functioning of legal, healthcare, and economic systems in a particular area. People studying quality of life typically examine a wide variety of factors and assess quality of life based upon a comparison to other regions. The United Nations uses the Human Development Index to measure standard of living, life expectancy, education, and the life options open to people in a particular area. Other measures include the Physical Quality of Life Index and the Happy Planet Index.

Additionally, quality of life is also sometimes used in an individual context, particularly by healthcare providers. In this context, quality of life measures an individual’s well-being based upon important factors such as social relationships, physical health, autonomy, and emotional health. There are several tools designed to measure quality of life, including the CDC’s Healthy Day Measure and the Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life. More frequently,  however, quality of life is a subjective assessment within healthcare. For example, a doctor might discuss prescribing pain medication to improve a person’s quality of life. When people feel that they have no quality of life, they might feel depressed and/or hopeless. Low quality of life is a common reason given for assisted suicide.


  1. Health-related quality of life. (2012, November 01). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hrqol/
  2. Human development index. (n.d.). United Nations Human Development Reports. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/hdi/

Last Updated: 08-20-2015

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  • Alex salgado

    April 5th, 2017 at 5:16 AM

    I read some

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