The Difference Between Standard of Living vs. Quality of Life

The Difference Between Standard of Living vs. Quality of Life

3 Min.

The difference between standard of living and quality of life lies in their focus and assessment. The standard of living measures tangible factors like income and infrastructure, while quality of life evaluates subjective factors like happiness and well-being. While both indicators have limitations, understanding their distinctions helps assess the well-being of individuals and societies.


Standard of living and quality of life are two distinct concepts that often overlap in discussions. The standard of living encompasses quantifiable factors like income, employment opportunities, and infrastructure, while the quality of life is more subjective, touching on personal preferences and human rights. Both indicators have flaws, with disparities within countries affecting the standard of living and variations in personal experiences affecting the quality of life.

Standard of Living

Standard of living refers to the overall wealth, comfort, material possessions, and essential resources available to individuals within a specific socioeconomic group or geographical region. It focuses on measurable factors, providing a quantitative assessment of a population's well-being.

Key Factors

  • Life Expectancy: Projected lifespan within the population.
  • Cost of Goods and Services: Affordability of essential items.
  • Access to Healthcare: Availability and affordability of medical services.
  • Employment Opportunities: Availability of jobs and job security.
  • Infrastructure: Development of transportation, utilities, and public services.
  • Income: Average earnings and wealth distribution.
  • Education: Quality and accessibility of educational institutions.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Total economic output.
  • Poverty: Prevalence of impoverished individuals.
  • Inflation Rate: Rate of increase in consumer prices.

Quality of Life

Quality of life is a subjective term that assesses an individual's overall satisfaction, happiness, and well-being within their particular circumstances. It encompasses intangible factors and can vary widely among individuals based on personal preferences.

Key Factors

  • Marriage and Family: Rights to marry, have a family, and be treated equally.
  • Employment: Availability of fair job opportunities.
  • Education: Access to quality education.
  • Privacy: Protection of personal information and space.
  • Equality: Equal treatment irrespective of gender, race, religion, etc.
  • Freedom: Rights to movement, residence, thought, and religion.
  • Healthcare: Availability and quality of healthcare services.
  • Rest and Leisure: Right to leisure time.
  • Dignity: Right to human dignity.
  • Human Rights: Fundamental freedoms and protections.

Standard of Living vs. Quality of Life

Standard of Living's Limitations

The concept of standard of living, while valuable, has its limitations. It can be a flawed indicator when disparities within a country exist. For instance, even in a prosperous nation like the United States, there are areas with low standards of living, characterized by limited job opportunities, short life expectancies, and high disease rates. This disparity highlights the importance of addressing regional inequalities.

Quality of Life's Subjectivity

On the other hand, quality of life is highly subjective. It varies greatly among individuals due to differences in personal preferences, values, and experiences. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by the United Nations, provides a comprehensive list of factors that contribute to the quality of life. However, achieving these ideals is often a work in progress rather than a current reality in many countries.


While the standard of living and quality of life are related concepts, they have distinct differences. Standard of living focuses on measurable factors such as income and infrastructure, while quality of life is subjective and encompasses personal satisfaction and well-being. Both indicators have limitations, with disparities in standard of living and variations in personal experiences affecting the overall assessment. Understanding the difference between these concepts is crucial for evaluating the overall well-being of individuals and societies.

Standard of Living
Quality of Life