Name of the tool
Quality of Life
Who applied the tool in the case?
The Institute for Social Research at York University, Toronto has undertaken a series of surveys on QOL in Canada in recent years.
A 10 year study of the QOL of citizens in the province of Ontario, Canada has been undertaken by the Quality of Life Research Unit at the University of Toronto. They developed a QOL index that is a single numberical score that relates to a benchmark value of 100 that was established in 1990. Four categories of indicator are used: social, economic, health and environmental. Within each category three indicators are measured. All indicators are considered to be equally important. As of Spring 2000, the QOL index was 97.7 (which was below the 1990 benchmark). This 2000 result was sent to provide a benchark for the 21st century. The drop in QOL is thought due to lagging social indicators. The environmental indicators have shown an upward result, except for the decline in air quality. The growing gap between economic and social indicators shows that economic growth doesn’t yield the dividends it once did. (BH Massam (2002) Editors D.Diamond & BH Massam, Quality of Life; Public Planning and Private Planning, Progress in Planning, Vol.58, Part 3, 2002, Elsevier Science, Pergamon Press).
Other case studies from Canada are included in the publication and copies are attached to the paper copy of this data extraction sheet.
Time taken to fully apply the tool
Any other interesting information about the tool
A procedure for assessing QOL extracted from an example of a QOL assessment of a town in Mexico(Massam, 2002):
1. Empirical data is collected from a sample of respondents. Each respondent is provided with scores for the importance and achievement for each indicator (e.g. a five point scale).
2. A survey of the perceptions of 15 indicators was carried out by questionnaire:
• The 1st set of 9 questions solicits basic information about each respondent
• Question 10’s answers provide the raw data about the indicators that are used to calculate QOL scores
• Questions 11-17 require each respondent to give information about their perceptions of QOL. (Most respondents happily answered questions 1-9, but they had more difficultly with numbers 11-17)
3. The selection of 15 indicators in question 10, was determined after a review of web sites and surveys of QOL, field testing previously and advice from university colleagues. The indicators used were: (1) Health (2) Cost of living (3) work opportunities (4) Housing (5) Family (6) Friends (7) Tourism (8) Shopping (9) Transportation (10) Holidays (11) Water (12) Air (13) Noise (14) Peace and tranquillity (15) Education.
4. There is a sequence of 3 steps used to convert the raw empirical data into a simple aggregate level QOL score for each town (approach developed by Renwick and Brown).
• STEP ONE: replies used to question 10 to calculate an average score for the perceived importance attached to each of the 15 indicators.If the average score is 5 then each respondent rated the indicator as having extremely high importance. If the score equals 1 then each respondent believes the indicator to be extremely unimportant.
• STEP TWO: Question 10’s data can be used to calculate an average score for the perceived level of achievement for each indicator. If the average value is 5 then it is an extremely high level of achievement and if one then it is an extremely poor level of achievement.
• STEP THREE: Combine the two sets of average scores for importance and achievement. Then use the conversion chart to get a QOL of life score.
For the conversion chart see: Massam, B.H., (2002) Quality of Life: Public Planning and Private Living, Progress in Planning Diamond, D., Massam, B.H. (Eds) vol 58, Part 3 2002. Pergamon.
5. Given that there were 15 indicators the final QOL score is the sum of 15 individual QOL scores divided by 15. (This final score is the aggregate overall QOL score for the current situation in the study town). Overall a quality of life score over 4.5 or higher is considered excellent and scores of 1.5 to 4.5 indicate a very acceptable situation. (Quality of life scores above 0 indicate a positive quality of life and scores below 0 indicate a negative quality of life).
(There is an alternative procedure called the mulit-criteria classification method)
When selecting indicators it’s important to keep the following points in mind:
1) Do the indicators in the study replicate those of other studies so that comparative work can be undertaken?
2) Can the indicators be measured using credible and reliable data?
3) Do the indicators reflect clearly, unambiguously and accurately the specific dimensions of QOL that are deemed to be appropriate? (Although the problem with this is who deems what to be appropriate, different people such as NGO’s, policiticians, citizens, developers etc, will have opposing views)
4) Does each indicator measure a separate dimension of QOL and are these dimensions independent, or are they correlated or linked in some way?
5) Does a particular indicator stand alone or is it a composite or two or more attributes, and if this is the case who determines these attributes and their relative importance?
Massam, B.H., (2002) Quality of Life: Public Planning and Private Living, Progress in Planning Diamond, D., Massam, B.H. (Eds) vol 58, Part 3 2002. Pergamon.
The UK Government has a website (http://www.Sustainable-development.gov.uk/indicators/index.htm) ‘Sustainable Development- the UK Government’s approach'. This website covers indicators that have been developed in the UK both at national, regional and local levels. The available indicators are:
• Headline indicators
• National indicators
• Regional indicators
• Local indicators
• International Indicator
• Indicators (e.g. EC, EEA, OECD & UN/CSD).
Case study/ies where tool is in use