What Is the Difference Between Standard of Living and Quality of Life?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2014
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Standard of living and quality of life are two similar concepts that seem as if they may be used interchangeably. The fact is that the two are different and are defined by factors that are distinct. While standard of living is more concerned with a predetermined, artificial status that has become accepted as a measure of good living, quality of life is focused on more intangible objects that do not necessarily depend on wealth.

The measures for a good standard of living may either be local, national or international. In this sense, what may pass as a good standard of living in a local municipality may fail to measure up in a national test. A standard that is accepted by one country as an indicator of a good standard of living may also miss the mark when it is measured against accepted international standards. Quality of life has a more universal theme because those things are are considered necessary for a good one are frequently common across countries.


In order to fully understand the two concepts, it is necessary to know some of the attributes of standard of living and quality of life. Some of the factors that may readily come to mind when measuring standard of living include income, good housing, good employment opportunities, high gross domestic product (GDP), low inflation, vacations, and security. Indicators of quality of life include factors like freedom of speech and movement; the right to religion, employment, dignity and privacy; peace of mind; and general contentment and wellbeing. It may be argued that quality of life can be enhanced by a good standard of living, but it is also important to note that even without all of the material items, a person's quality of life may still be maintained.

One way in which the two concepts intersect is in the measurement for the development of a country. Most of the attributes of both are often found more in developed countries than in less-developed ones. As such, places where the majority of the citizens have access to the factors that make up each concept may be said to be developed.


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