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The standard of living refers to the quality and quantity of goods and services available to people and the way these services and goods are distributed within a population. It is generally measured by standards such as income inequality, poverty rate, real (i.e. inflation adjusted) income per person. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, educational standards and social rights are often used too. Examples are access to certain goods (such as number of refrigerators per 1000 people), or measures of health such as life expectancy. It is the ease by which people living in a country are able to satisfy their wants.

The idea of a 'standard' may be contrasted with the quality of life, which takes into account not only the material standard of living, but also other more subjective factors that contribute to human life, such as leisure, safety, cultural resources, social life, mental health, environmental quality issues etc. More complex means of measuring well-being must be employed to make such judgements, and these are very often political, thus controversial. Even among two nations or societies that have similar material standards of living, quality of life factors may in fact make one of these places more attractive to a given individual or group.

However, there can be problems even with just using numerical averages to compare material standards of living, as opposed to, for instance, a Pareto index. Standards of living are perhaps inherently subjective. As an example, countries with a very small, very rich upper class and a very large, very poor lower class may have a high mean level of income, even though the majority of people have a low "standard of living". This mirrors the problem of poverty measurement, which also tends towards the relative. This illustrates how distribution of income can disguise the actual Standard of living.

There are many factors being considered before measuring standard of living. Some factors are gross domestic product, the per capita income, population, infrastructural development, stability (political and social), and many other indicators.


  • Lawrence B. Glickman; A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society Cornell University Press. (1997).
  • Geoffrey Hawthorn, ed., The Standard of Living (1987).
  • Sara Horrell; "Living Standards in Britain 1900-2000: Women's Century" in National Institute Economic Review 2000. pp 62+
  • Sager, E. W. and Peter Baskerville, "Unemployment, Living Standards, and the Working-Class Family in Urban Canada in 1901" in History of the Family 1997, vol 2; # 3, pages 229-254
  • Amartya K. Sen, The Standard of Living (1987)
  • Peter R. Shergold. Working-Class Life: The "American Standard" in Comparative Perspective, 1899-1913 1982
  • Richard H. Steckel, "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature vol. 33(4), pp 1903-1940. 1995.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

fr:Niveau de vie
id:Standar hidup
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