Quality of Life, CIE Topic for AY 20-22

WHO defines Quality of Life as an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. It is a broad ranging concept affected in a complex way by the person’s physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and their relationship to salient features of their environment.

In the mid-twentieth century, both the World Health Organization and the United States Agency for International Development used the Gross National Product (GNP) as an indicator to determine a nation’s Quality of Life.  GNP is the total market value of goods and services a country produces in its yearly economy (Gross Domestic Product) in addition to profit, rents, dividends, and interest gain from overseas investment. Consumption expenditures, investments, Government purchase of goods and services, and net exports are all variable a student would learn about in a Marco-Economics course that helps to calculate both GDP and GNP.  There’s has been debate among scholars how to best calculate Standard of Living of a populace, in which some calculate the GNP and divide it by the populace.  Like any equation, there are some variables that are not completely accounted for and are difficult to assess, like benefits and cost that may improve lifestyle but have no perceived economic benefit.  Two families in different countries could experience a similar economic quality of life, but one may have to content with more pollution, traffic congestion, crime, and inequality.

Previously a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a nationally recognized economist who did work with both Washington and the Ukraine after the Cold War, economist Dr. Ballantyne once said that economics is based on glee units. People make market decisions based on what makes them happy, or gives them a sense of satisfaction.  There has been a movement in the last forty years to depart from using this economic framework as a sole indicator of Quality of Life.  Economist, Sociologist, and professor emeritus of Comparative Studies, Dr. Morris David Morris stated that the GNP “as a basic indicator of human well-being is seriously flawed.”Anchor[1] In 2014, the Center for Community and Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin expanded on the nature of capital in the following categories: Natural, Cultural, Human, Social, Political, Financial, and Built.  These categories once evaluated helped to determine the nature of a community’s capital.

Faculty and Staff spent may hours in discussion about how to best articulate ideas central to Quality of Life in the following interdiscplinary pathways:

  1. Consumerism/Minimalism
  2.  Technology and the Workforce
  3. Identity (personal, cultural, organizational)
  4. Debt and Financial Literacy
  5. Poverty of Time
  6.  Civic and Social Empowerment
  7. Climate Change
  8. Personal Health and Wellness


What are your priorities when it comes to life satisfaction and your personal well-being? Wealth? Your health? Or your happiness? And how could you measure it?

This video is part of an online course being taught at the University of California, “ICS 5: Global Disruption and Information Technology”