Living standard and quality of life: what is the difference?

Living Standards and Quality of Life: An Overview

The standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities available to a certain socioeconomic class or geographic area. On the other hand, quality of life is a subjective term that can measure happiness.

These two terms are often confused because there may be some overlap in the way they are defined. But understanding the different nuances of each country will affect how you evaluate the countries/regions you might want to invest in.

Key points

  • Living standard is a tangible and quantifiable term that refers to the factors available in a certain socioeconomic class or geographic area.
  • Quality of life is a subjective term that can measure happiness.
  • Both may be defective indicators, because factors may differ between people in the same geographic area or socioeconomic class.

Standard of living

The standard of living is a comparison tool used when describing two different geographic regions. Indicators may include wealth level, comfort level, commodities and necessities, etc. These contents can be used by people of different socioeconomic classes in these areas. Standards of living standards are easy to quantify, such as income, employment opportunities, cost of goods and services, and poverty. Factors such as life expectancy, the rate of inflation, or the number of paid vacation days people receive each year are also included.

Other factors commonly associated with living standards include:

  • Class gap
  • Poverty rate
  • Housing quality and affordability
  • Working time required to purchase necessities
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Affordable quality healthcare services
  • Quality and availability of education
  • Incidence
  • infrastructure
  • National economic growth
  • Economic and political stability
  • Political and religious freedom
  • Environmental Quality
  • climate
  • Safety

The standard of living in the United States is comparable to that in Canada. It can also be compared with smaller geographic areas, such as New York City and Detroit. It can also be used to compare different points in time. For example, compared with a century ago, the standard of living in the United States is considered to have improved greatly. Now, the same workload has bought more goods and items, which were once luxury goods such as refrigerators and cars. Leisure time and life expectancy have also increased, while annual working hours have decreased.

One indicator of living standards is the Human Development Index (HDI), which has been used by the United Nations since 1990. It considers life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, and GDP per capita to measure the level of development of a country.

Standard of living versus quality of life

Quality of Life

Quality of life is a more subjective and intangible term than living standards. Therefore, it is often difficult to quantify. The factors that affect the overall quality of life vary with people’s lifestyle and personal preferences. Regardless of these factors, this measure plays an important role in the financial decision-making in everyone’s life. Some factors that affect a person’s quality of life may include workplace, healthcare, education, and material living conditions.

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, provides an excellent list of factors for assessing the quality of life. It includes many things that citizens of the United States and other developed countries take for granted, which are not available in many other countries/regions in the world. Although this declaration is more than 70 years old, in many respects it still represents an ideal to be realized, rather than a baseline state. Factors that can be used to measure the quality of life include:

  • Freedom from slavery and torture
  • Equal protection according to law
  • Freedom from discrimination
  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom to live in one’s own country
  • Presumption of innocence unless proven guilty
  • Right to marry
  • The right to own a family
  • The right not to be treated equally by gender, race, language, religion, political belief, nationality, socioeconomic status, etc.
  • Privacy
  • freedom of thought
  • Religious freedom
  • Free choice of employment
  • The right to fair remuneration
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • right to vote
  • Right to rest and leisure
  • Right to education
  • Human dignity

Living Standard and Quality of Life: Defective Indicators

The standard of living is a flawed indicator. Although the United States as a country ranks among the best in many fields, the standard of living of some people is very low. For example, some impoverished urban areas of the country lack high-quality employment opportunities, short life expectancy, and high incidence of diseases and diseases.

Likewise, the quality of life varies from person to person, which also makes it a flawed indicator. Compared with others, the quality of life in various parts of the U.S. population may be lower. They may be discriminated against in society and workplaces, or they may not have access to clean drinking water, proper health care or education.


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