ERIC Number: EJ786807
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Measuring and Understanding the Well-Being of South Africans: Everyday Quality of Life in South Africa
Higgs, Neil T.
Social Indicators Research, v81 n2 p331-356 Apr 2007
South Africa has a Gini co-efficient of 62, one of the world's highest (Finmark: Project FinScope 2004 and 2005, FinMark Trust, Johannesburg). Hence, measures of wealth are ubiquitous social indicators in South Africa. However, a growing emphasis in government towards measurable service delivery targets and remedial action to redress the inequalities of our past makes the reliable measurement of people's quality of life in greater depth in quantitative terms an imperative. We have developed a simple framework to measure people's quality of life in key domains that extend beyond that simply of wealth, using composite indices to allow progress to be tracked and to make valid comparisons across our diverse population. Termed the Everyday Quality of Life Index (EQLi), it comprises a suite of measures encompassing socio-economic status (with special reference to poverty), urbanisation, health (nutrition, exercise and fitness), stress/pressure, quality of the environment, satisfaction of human needs, connectivity, optimism, subjective well-being (happiness, after Diener and Lucas: 2000, in M. Lewis, J.M. Haviland (eds.), Handbook of Emotions. (2nd ed) (Guilford, New York)), and the overall measure of well-being, the EQLi itself. The initial framework was developed from a structured questionnaire administered to a probability sample of 2000 South African adults in 2002. From this, a 52-item shortlist was derived to create the series of measures. This has been tested and refined in three subsequent annual studies, each of 3500 people across urban and rural South Africa. In 2004, items involving work as well as determining the balance of skills and challenges at work using the concept of "flow" (Csikszentmihalyi: 1990, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper and Row, New York)) were added. This paper outlines the rationale behind the selection and development of these measures, describes the EQL of South Africans using these and other key measures and concludes with implications for policy-makers and service providers in South Africa. Some marketing implications are also given: there is a growing emphasis worldwide on corporate social investment initiatives and, particularly in South Africa, on community upliftment and development--poverty alleviation and improving the lives of the disadvantaged ("people" rather than "consumers"). Further, people's well-being affects how they react to marketing activities.
Descriptors: Poverty, Quality of Life, Marketing, Social Indicators, Foreign Countries, Developing Nations, Probability, Social Capital, Socioeconomic Status, Guidelines, Questionnaires, Evaluation Methods, Comparative Analysis, Services, Delivery Systems, Public Policy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa