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One's standard of living is measured according to his or her income, access to basic services and amenities, and the conditions in which that person lives. A person's ability to earn wealth and comfort can improve standard of living for that person, though it can also lead to a poorer standard of living. Increased income is one way to improve standard of living, as is access to public programs that can help those people with very little get ahead more quickly. Most changes in standard of living must be implemented by an entire society, however, which means change can come quite slowly.
A society can improve standard of living for many of its members, for example, simply by providing efficient means of transportation. When people are allowed to travel, they are able to get to jobs that may not be close to their homes. This is a common problem throughout the world, as jobs can be concentrated in small areas but residential areas may be spread out over greater distances. Public transportation such as trains and buses are useful in helping a person improve standard of living because that person will be able to access more services in addition to more jobs.
Access to basic health care is another way to improve the standard of living. People who forgo medical care often lead more difficult lives, as chronic health problems can develop and prohibit those people from being as productive as possible. Having health insurance usually ensures a person can access health care when necessary; if health insurance is not available or a person cannot afford it, health clinics often offer basic services at lower prices so even less wealthy people can get the treatments they need. Some countries throughout the world have implemented universal health care, which insures all citizens of that country can get access to basic health care when necessary.
Getting an education is perhaps one of the most important ways to improve standard of living. More educated people are more likely to get jobs that pay well and offer health or retirement benefits. In many societies throughout the world, a high school education is the bare minimum requirement for securing decent employment. A person with a college degree is likely to earn more, thereby allowing that person to afford more amenities for comfort or enjoyment. Leisure time is of course an important element of one's standard of living, and more educated people tend to have more leisure time as well as more resources with which to enjoy it.