© 2017

The Pursuit of Human Well-Being

The Untold Global History

  • Richard J. Estes
  • M. Joseph Sirgy


  • Provides a positive perspective on the history of well-being

  • Discusses the concept of well-being within the context of different philosophical and religious traditions

  • Offers a clear overview of well-being and quality of life in different regions and sub-regions of the world


Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxvi
  2. Historical Conceptions of Well-Being over the Long Term

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-2
    2. Alex C. Michalos, Daniel Weijers
      Pages 31-57
    3. Shawn Arthur, Victor H. Mair
      Pages 59-82
    4. Isabelle Clark-Decès, Frederick M. Smith
      Pages 83-107
    5. Mohsen Joshanloo
      Pages 109-131
  3. Domains of Well-Being

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 133-134
    2. M. Joseph Sirgy, Richard J. Estes, Audrey N. Selian
      Pages 135-157
  4. Regional Analyses of the History and Contemporary State of Well-Being Since World War II

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 159-160
    2. Valerie Møller, Benjamin Roberts
      Pages 161-215
    3. Mariano Rojas, José de Jesús García Vega
      Pages 217-255
    4. Richard J. Estes, Kenneth C. Land, Alex C. Michalos, Rhonda Phillips, M. Joseph Sirgy
      Pages 257-299
    5. Vijay Kumar Shrotryia, Krishna Mazumdar
      Pages 349-380
    6. Mahar Mangahas, Edilberto C. De Jesus
      Pages 381-408
    7. Wolfgang Glatzer, Jürgen Kohl
      Pages 409-452
    8. Robert A. Cummins, Tanja Capic
      Pages 453-491
    9. Habib Tiliouine, Mohammed Meziane
      Pages 523-563

About this book


This handbook informs the reader about how much progress we, the human race, have made in enhancing the quality of life on this planet. Many skeptics focus on how the quality of life has deteriorated over the course of human history, particularly given World War II and its aftermath. This handbook provides a positive perspective on the history of well-being. Quality of life, as documented by scientists worldwide, has significantly improved. Nevertheless, one sees more improvements in well-being in some regions of the world than in others. Why? This handbook documents the progress of well-being in the various world regions as well as the differences in those regions. The broad questions that the handbook addresses include: 
  • What does well-being mean? 
  • How do different philosophical and religious traditions interpret the concept of well-being within their own context
  • Has well-being remained the same over different historical epochs and for different regions and subregions of the world?
  • In which areas of human development have we been most successful in advancing individual and collective well-being? In which sectors has the attainment of well-being proven most difficult?
  • How does well-being differ within and between different populations groups that, for a variety of socially created reasons, have been the most disadvantaged (e.g., children, the aged, women, the poor, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities)?


Historical Traditions of Well-Being Quality of Life Indicators Well-Being of Nations and Population Groups Contemporary State of Well-Being Domains of Well-Being Well-Being in Western Countries Well-Being in East Asia Well-Being in South Asia Well-Being in Islamic Countries Well-Being in Latin America Well-Being in North America Well-Being in Europe Well-Being in Oceania

Editors and affiliations

  • Richard J. Estes
    • 1
  • M. Joseph Sirgy
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social Policy and PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Pamplin College of Business Department of MarketingVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech)BlacksburgUSA

About the editors

Richard J. Estes is Professor Emeritus of Social Work and Social Policy in the School of Social Policy & Practice of the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in international and comparative social welfare, social policy, and social development. He has been the recipient of many awards and prizes for his contributions to comparative social development. In addition to the present volume, his books include The Social Progress of Nations, 1984; Trends in World Social Development, 1988; Health Care and the Social Services,1984; Towards a Social Development Strategy for the Asia and Pacific Region (with Edward Van Roy), 1992; Social Development in Hong Kong: The Unfinished Agenda, 2005; Medical, Legal, and Social Science Aspects of Child Sexual Exploitation, 2007; Advancing Quality of Life in a Turbulent World, 2007; Social Progress in Islamic Societies: Social, Political, Economic, and Ideological Challenges (with Habib Tiliouine, Dordrecht NL: Springer), in preparation; and Human Well-Being: The Untold Global History (with M. Joseph Sirgy, Dordrecht HL: Springer), in preparation, 2015.

M. Joseph Sirgy is a management psychologist (PhD, University of Massachusetts, 1979), Professor of Marketing, and Virginia Real Estate Research Fellow at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). He has published extensively in the areas of marketing, business ethics, and quality of life (QOL). He is the author/editor of many books related to quality-of-life and well-being research. In 1998, he received the Distinguished Fellow Award from ISQOLS. In 2003, ISQOLS honored him as the Distinguished QOL Researcher for research excellence and a record of lifetime achievement in QOL research. In 2012 he was awarded the EuroMed Management Research Award for outstanding achievements and groundbreaking contributions to well-being and quality-of-life research.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Pursuit of Human Well-Being
  • Book Subtitle The Untold Global History
  • Editors Richard J. Estes
    M. Joseph Sirgy
  • Series Title International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life
  • Series Abbreviated Title Intern.Hdbk Quality-Life
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-39100-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-41641-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-39101-4
  • Series ISSN 2468-7227
  • Series E-ISSN 2468-7235
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXXVI, 808
  • Number of Illustrations 74 b/w illustrations, 253 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Quality of Life Research
    Positive Psychology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“This is an immensely important milestone in the global cultural history of wellbeing, and it will be a superb resource for anyone wanting a comprehensive global overview of philosophies, concepts, and socio-economic and political histories relating to wellbeing, as well as a rich source of basic information on contemporary objective and subjective indicators. … As an extremely ambitious collection offering encyclopedic coverage of historical and contemporary information relevant to wellbeing worldwide, this is impressive.” (Neil Thin, Margarita Tarragona, Paul Wong, Rebecca Jarden, Jonathan Bartholomaeus and Aaron Jarden, International Journal of Wellbeing, Vol. 7 (1), June, 2017)