Constructing a Measure of Well-Being

  • Ryan M. Yonk
  • Josh T. Smith
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Political Science book series (BRIEFSPOLITICAL)


Any index’s quality is based on its contents. A good index is based on what matters, clearly delineates what the data sources are, and the methods used in creating the index. The saying, “garbage in, garbage out, is common among social scientists who either work with or critique indexes. Because we define quality of life as, “The measured fulfillment of human wants and needs,” determining how and what to include is of particular importance. Including ideas that are incorrect, garbage, in our index will produce only one thing, more garbage. It is easy to make an index, but it is tremendously difficult to build a valid one. In fact, it is likely impossible to have a perfect index, which is part of the reason we include only data that is widely and freely available because we think any other index based on private data is too much of a black box to rely on in policymaking or scholarly analysis. Our index, like any other, is certainly imperfect. We console ourselves with a firm belief that scientific progress is largely found in marginal improvements to existing models and methods.


  1. Blalock, H. M. (1985). Causal models in the social sciences. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine.Google Scholar
  2. Box, G. E. P. (1976). Science and statistics. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 71, 791–799. Scholar
  3. Freedom House. (1995). Freedom in the world: The annual survey of political rights and civil liberties. Freedom Review.Google Scholar
  4. Gwartney, J., Lawson, R. A., Hall, J. C., Murphy, R., Butler, R., Considine, J., et al (2016, September 15). Economic freedom of the world: 2016 annual report. Fraser Institute. Retrieved from
  5. Likert, R. (1932). A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Archives of Psychology, 22(140), 55.Google Scholar
  6. Rodrik, D. (2015). Economics rules: The rights and wrongs of the dismal science (p. 2015). New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  7. Rubinstein, A. (2017). Comments on economic models, economics, and economists: Remarks on economics rules by Dani Rodrik. Journal of Economic Literature, 55(1), 162–172. Retrieved from Scholar
  8. The Economist. (2005). The economist intelligence unit’s quality-of-life index. The Economist.. Retrieved from
  9. United Nations Development Program, & Watkins, K. (2007). Human development report 2007/2008: Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  10. Yonk, R. M., Smith, J. T., & Wardle, A. R. (2017). Building a quality of life index. In A. A. V. Boas (Ed.), Well-being and quality of life. Book Chapter. InTech.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan M. Yonk
    • 1
  • Josh T. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations