Government should study quality of life rather than happiness says expert

From April, the Office for National Statistics will ask people to rate their own well-being with the first official happiness index due in 2012.

But Professor Suzanne Skevington from the University of Bath’s Department of Psychology said the Government should instead focus on quality of life as a measure of the nation’s wellbeing.

She has worked for over ten years on a comprehensive study of quality of life. Working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), she and collaborators in many countries around the world have discovered 24 aspects that are agreed by people in diverse cultures. This measure is being used to assess the quality of life of people globally.

These include positive feelings of happiness and contentment, having enough energy, good personal relationships and having enough money to meet your needs.

Professor Skevington said: “I think the Government should be studying people’s quality of life rather than measuring their happiness. Happiness is just one aspect of quality of life and although it is very important, it is just one of many components of wellbeing.

“Aspects of quality of life such as having enough energy to be able to do the things you want to do or having opportunities to take part in leisure and recreational activities, all contribute towards wellbeing”

The 24 aspects of quality of life in the World Health Organisation Quality of Life are:

  • Physical: Pain & Discomfort; Energy & Fatigue; Sleep & Rest
  • Psychological: Positive Feelings; Thinking, learning, memory & concentration; Self-Esteem; Body Image & Appearance; Negative Feelings
  • Level of Independence: Mobility; Activities of Daily Living; Dependence on Medication & Treatment; Working Capacity
  • Social Relationships: Personal Relationships; Practical Social Support; Sex life
  • Environment: Physical Safety & Security; Home Environment; Financial Resources; Availability and quality of Health & Social Care; Opportunities for acquiring new Information  & Skills; Participation in, & opportunities for Recreation and Leisure; Physical Environment; Transport
  • Spiritual, Religious and Personal Belief

The World Health Organisation Quality of Life questionnaire can be found on the University of Bath website at