Social well-being and Quality of life – UPSC

In this article, You will read Social well-being and Quality of life – for UPSC (Population and Settlement Geography – Geography Optional).

Social well-being and Quality of life

  • Quality of life is a concept, which in recent years, has generated a great deal of interest but it is not only a notion of the twentieth century. Rather it dates back to philosophers like Aristotle (384-322 BC) who wrote about “the good life‟ and “living well‟ and how public policy can help to nurture it.
  • With Critical Revolution in geography, man became the centre of study (welfare geography). The concept of social well-being and Quality of Life has emerged from the concept of welfare geography.
  • General definition of “Quality of life‟ is “a person’s sense of well-being, his satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life, or his happiness or unhappiness”
  • WHO defines Quality of Life as “the condition of life resulting from the combination of effects of a complete range of factors such as those determining health, happiness, education, social and intellectual attainment, freedom of action, justice and freedom of expression”.
  • Quality of Life requires that people’s basic and social needs are met and that they have the autonomy to choose to enjoy life, to flourish, and to participate as citizens in a society with high levels of civic integration, social connectivity, trust, and other integrative norms including at least fairness and equity, all within a physically and socially sustainable global environment.
  • Quality of Life includes both the objective and subjective realities, measurable and non-measurable aspects of human living. Quality of Life is a multi-faceted phenomenon which means welfare in general and health prosperity in particular.
    • Physical well-being – It includes environmental conditions such as climatic variation, local topographical variations, physical density, physical and mental health.
    • Material well-being – It includes household equipment including electrical and electronics equipment, means of conveyance, and communications.
    • Social well-being – It includes social health, social security, social amenities and social relations including social ethos.
    • Economic well-being – It includes employment opportunities, level of income and savings and purchasing power, consumption of goods and services.
    • Perception of well-being – It includes attitude towards external living and nonliving things, individual/social traits, experiences of real-world situations, and an element of subjectivity.
    • Spiritual well-being – It includes religious beliefs, practices, taboos, and various approaches to seek truth and happiness.
  • Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment, but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.

Social well-being

  • The study of social well-being in geography is the inevitable result of the relevance movement which started in the 1970s. It aimed at addressing those human problems which were afflicting society at large. It was launched to groom geography as a socially relevant discipline. Hence, geography began to address the welfare issues which provided a new framework for micro-level inquiries. Microlevel spatial analysis has enhanced the role of geography in developmental planning. Through the social relevance movement, the emphasis of inquiry in geography shifted from the study of marginal land to the marginal social space.
  • An important dimension of quality of life is ,of course, social well-being which connotes “a condition in which basic human needs are met, anti people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement”.
  • Social well-being means a healthy relationship environment with society, social stability, and Peace. Social well-being is required to overcome loneliness in life. Good communication networks and healthy relationships amongst people are essential for social well-being.
  • A “well society”, for example, is one in which all people have sufficient income to meet their basic needs, where all are treated with equal dignity and have equal rights, where they have reasonable access to their needed range of services, and where their opinions are heard and respected. The quality of a society can be measured by its success on variables reflecting such desiderata, as can variations within society.
  • The following are the components of measurement of social well being:
    • Health
    • Education
    • Food and nutrition
    • Equality
    • Freedom
    • Pollutions
    • Law and order
    • Social structure
    • Sex ratio
  • Social well-being is subjective in nature. Preference and components of the social well-being of the person living in the village, town, city, hilly areas, plain areas, or different climatic regions will be different for different people. Even, the meaning of social well-being will differ living in the same geographical areas with different age or ethnicity groups.
  • The social well-being of any society over the world has cultural and technological overtones. The developed countries with their advanced technology are ahead in the level of well-being due to the early and rapid urbanization and industrialization and concomitant change in social needs and values.
  • But the process of industrialization and urbanization is slow and selective in a majority of other third world countries resulting in a limited change in social needs. The social values change in accordance to the social needs which are governed by the micro geographical conditions level of technology, and cross-cultural assimilation.
Social well-being and Quality of life

Cross-National indices of measuring Quality of life/Social well-being

  • Given below are some of the indexes which are helpful for measuring the quality of life:
    • Human development index(HDI) (talk a little about the variables that go into its calculation)
    • Quality of life index – This index reflects three universal requirements of human existence – meeting biological needs, coordinating social interaction, and survival and welfare needs of groups. India ranked 73 in the 2005 and, 63 in 2021 Quality of life index report.
    • Index of social progress – This index identifies significant changes in “adequacy of social provision” and to assesses the progress in providing more adequately for the basic social and material needs of the world’s population.
    • World Happiness Index – The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey on the state of global happiness. It ranks over 150 countries by their happiness levels, reflecting growing global interest in using happiness and substantial well-being as an indicator of the quality of human development. India ranked 139 out of 149 countries in UN’s World Happiness Report 2021.
  • Demographic, personal, and socio-economic factors also affect the quality of life of a region.
  • Economic Intelligence Unit’s quality of life attempts to measure which country will provide the best opportunity for a healthy, safe, and prosperous life to its people in years ahead. It includes:
    • Subjective life satisfaction survey
    • Objective determinants of quality of life such as:
      • GDP per capita
      • Job security
      • Governance
      • Gender equality
Quality of life: A systems model
  • The approach to the measurement of the quality of life derives from the position that there are a number of domains of living.
  • Each domain contributes to one’s overall assessment of the quality of life. The domains include family and friends, work, neighborhood (shelter), community, health, education, and spirituality.
Quality of life: A systems model
  • Recent trends with respect to demographic, economic, social indicators provide ground for optimism about human well being due to unprecedented growth in both developed and developing countries, but with problems at local or regional level especially in developing regions, the challenge for making the quality of life better for the people in these regions is complex.
  • Problems faced by least developed countries across various facets of well-being are due to the pressure of the population.
  • The interaction between population growth & human well-being is complex. An increase in population leads to problems related to environmental degradation in developing countries and if it is unchecked, it will lead to severe consequences.
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