Definition – Quality of life refers to the general well-being of a person or society, based on a range of criteria such as health and happiness, rather than only wealth.
For policy-makers and practitioners who wish to understand how quality of life can be gauged, a range of indices have been developed, including:
- Eurobarometer Quality of Life in Cities Survey: The last survey of 79 European cities was undertaken in 2013 and covered topics including satisfaction with public transport, air quality, noise level, public spaces, green spaces and the fight against climate change.
- Happy Planet Index: The index measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and ecological footprint to calculate this. The index ranks countries on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental input.
- Mercer Quality of Living Index: This has been developed for companies with internationally mobile workforces, to enable them to set hardship allowances. Within the category Public Services and Transport, scores are awarded for public transport and traffic congestion.
Relevance to SUMP - In the context of SUMP, quality of life has been expressed as “space for people, better air, less noise, improved health and reduced health cost, ecosystem health, less traffic, less pollution, time and cost savings of sustainable urban mobility solutions” (IEE, 2012). While transport impacts many aspects of quality of life, the comprehensive nature of quality of life assessments means that transport-specific indicators will only make up a small portion of all criteria used. Nevertheless, the development of sector-specific indices such as the Copenhagenize Index, which focuses on cycling, indicates how more complex mobility-related assessments could contribute to overall quality of life assessments in the future. As well as judging the quality of cycling infrastructure, the Copenhagenize index covers indicators of social and cultural progress for cycling, including the gender split of cyclists, perception of safety and social acceptance.
Source: JLL, 2013; IEE, 2012