Standard of living

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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 goods and services 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 as well. Examples are access to certain goods (such as number of refrigerators per 1000 people), or measures of health such as life desires. It is the ease by which people living in a time or place 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 intangible aspects that make up 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 judgments, 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 (a measure of the breadth of income or wealth distribution). 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.

External links

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