IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Conceptualizing and Measuring Quality of Life for National Policy


  • Johansson, Sten

    (Trade Union Institute for Economic Research)


The interests in social indicators and social reporting started in the 1960s with the new awareness of poverty in the midst of affluence. In this paper I first discuss the poverty concept and its implication for social policy strategy. The poverty concept should be but one in a system of concepts that throws light on the whole distribution of income and wealth and how income from labor as well as income from capital is generated. The central concepts in the system are income and economic standard, which I explain in different perspectives on command over resources. The command-over-resources concept is used to get from a narrow concept of material welfare that can be measured in money to a wider concept of welfare that includes the universal common social concerns. I confess to being intrigued by the fact that a list of social concerns can be agreed upon that seems to be relevant across cultures, political systems and times. I suggest that this surmised universality springs from the great “life projects” that all humans face over the life cycle. I then discuss the role of social indicators and social reporting as continuous information on these common concerns in the context of an epistemology of the democratic process. Social reporting would serve the democratic process best if it answers “how it is” and leaves the answers on “how it ought to be” and “what should be done” to come about through discussion among citizens.

Suggested Citation

  • Johansson, Sten, 2001. "Conceptualizing and Measuring Quality of Life for National Policy," Working Paper Series 171, Trade Union Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:fiefwp:0171
    Note: To be published in special issue of Social Indicators Research, 2001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alejandro Agafonow, 2007. "Los límites de la eficiencia económica en una sociedad democrática," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 9(16), pages 89-119, January-J.

    More about this item


    Quality of life; welfare; poverty; income distribution; democratic process;

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:fiefwp:0171. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sune Karlsson). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.