Measuring quality of life: Economic, social, and subjective indicators

Ed Diener, Eunkook Suh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1248 Citations (Scopus)


Thinkers have discussed the "good life" and the desirable society for millennia. In the last decades, scientists offered several alternative approaches to defining and measuring quality of life: social indicators such as health and levels of crime, subjective well-being measures (assessing people's evaluative reactions to their lives and societies), and economic indices. These alternative indicators assess three philosophical approaches to well-being that are based, respectively, on normative ideals, subjective experiences, and the ability to select goods and services that one desires. The strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches are reviewed. It is argued that social indicators and subjective well-being measures are necessary to evaluate a society, and add substantially to the regnant economic indicators that are now favored by policy makers. Each approach to measuring the quality of life contains information that is not contained in the other measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-216
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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