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Place of Happiness and Subjective Indicators of Well-Being in Quality of Life Issues

Place of Happiness and Subjective Indicators of Well-Being in Quality of Life Issues


Abstract: Quality of life (QOL), a multidimensional construct, has in the last two and a half decades attracted attention in research and practice across the medical sciences, humanities and the social sciences. One major challenge is the conceptualization of QOL which has led to confusion with other terms. This paper is an attempt to conceptualise QOL and examine the point(s) of distinction with happiness and wellbeing. Evidence from literature established significant overlaps between happiness, wellbeing and QOL, with quality of life seen as an umbrella construct having happiness, wellbeing and other factors as sub-components. The composite quality of life is broadly categorized into objective and subjective components. The objective component has to do with established (societal) norms using observable and quantifiable socio-economic and health indicators. The subjective component, which is the thrust of this paper, has to do with the perception/personal self-evaluation of individuals about how good they feel, how happy they are, and general life satisfaction in order of importance to the individuals. Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation, otherwise known as theory of needs, provides an effective framework in explaining quality of life from the subjective perspective. With the hierarchical nature of human needs and motivation dynamics, it becomes obvious that subjective quality of life is fluid and influenced by situational factors and prevailing circumstances, coupled with individual motivation. The implication is that individuals will evaluate their quality of life based on the needs that are motivating at that point in time and how much they have been able to satisfy those needs.

JEL classification: D63, I31

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