© 2008

Barometers of Quality of Life Around the Globe

How Are We Doing?

  • Valerie Møller
  • Denis Huschka
  • Alex C. Michalos


  • Gives an overview of the literature on social barometers currently in use

  • Provides a global overview of the most important social indicators studies

  • The case studies cite substantive examples of social trends


Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 33)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XXII
  2. Mahar Mangahas, Linda Luz B. Guerrero
    Pages 23-36
  3. Jack Kruse, Birger Poppel, Larissa Abryutina, Gerard Duhaime, Stephanie Martin, Mariekathrine Poppel et al.
    Pages 107-134
  4. Robert A. Cummins, David Mellor, Mark A. Stokes, Anna A.L.D. Lau
    Pages 135-159
  5. Takashi Inoguchi, Seiji Fujii
    Pages 187-232
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 224-238

About this book


Quality of life (QOL) research has made great strides since the social indicator movement started as a scientific enterprise in the 1960s. Following the lead of pioneers in North America and Europe, social scientists in other regions of the world have adopted and refined social data systems or barometers to monitor progress in enhancing the welfare and well-being of citizens. A distinctive feature of these barometers is that they measure both individual and societal quality of life. While not overlooking the more basic needs and material standards of living, the barometers also inform on issues of individual freedoms and choices and constraints on citizen empowerment that enhance and depress quality of life. Designed to capture nuances in local definitions of the good life, regional barometers are unique expressions of the obstacles facing different societies in their quest to achieve the good life. Scholars of public policy as well as policy makers will find inspiration from reviews of innovative initiatives to monitor contemporary quality of life in six regions of the world spanning South America, the Arctic, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.


politics quality of life social development social indicators social policy social trends

Editors and affiliations

  • Valerie Møller
    • 1
  • Denis Huschka
    • 2
  • Alex C. Michalos
    • 3
  1. 1.Rhodes University Inst. Social & Economic ResearchGrahamstown6140 South Africa
  2. 2.German Council for Social and Economic DataGermany
  3. 3.University of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

About the editors

Valerie Møller is Professor of Quality of Life Studies in the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. She has researched a wide range of quality of life issues in South Africa for public information and policy purposes, including housing, poverty and unemployment, development and service delivery, criminal victimisation and intergenerational relations. Together with colleagues she developed the first survey instruments in the 1980s to measure perceptions of personal well-being among South Africans – the study is regularly updated. More recently she successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a quality of life module in Statistics South Africa’s annual household survey which produces the bulk of national social indicators.

Denis Huschka is Managing Director of the German Council for Social and Economic Data, situated in Berlin/Germany. He also conducts scientific studies as a Research Associate of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa and he is Permanent Visiting Fellow of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). He has conducted empirical research on regional differences in Quality of Life in Germany and Europe, and on Anomia in post-apartheid South Africa. He was involved in establishing or carrying out several survey initiatives (Wohlfahrtssurvey, Germany; General Household Survey 2002, South Africa; Euromodule, Europe). His most recent research interest focuses on the sociological concept of individualisation as applied to given names as social indicators.

Alex Michalos

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


From the reviews: “This book provides didactic efforts at measuring quality of life (QOL) through survey instruments. … The book reads as a reference for QOL research, potentially useful for scholars getting their feet wet in survey data, and correlates of welfare and well-being around the world. … Taken individually, each of the chapters may provide necessary information for readers looking for specifics on a nation or region.” (Nate Breznau, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 22 (1), Spring, 2010)