Why Quality of Life Matters More than Having a High Standard of Living

· January 25, 2018

A lot of people, especially those in the “first world”, are openly concerned with improving their living standards. It is a priority for them.

However, “first you have to learn the rules of the game, and then you have to play better than anyone else” as Albert Einstein said.

The truth is that quality of life should always be a priority for everyone.

If you’re lacking in money, you want to have more. If you have lots of income, it might seem like not enough to you. If you have a busy social life, it might bore you. If you dream, you want realities.

If, if, if… there are lots of if’s in our world. Conditions because we constantly desire a higher standard of living than what we have.

Do you really think that having a higher standard of living will make you happier? Do you think that earning more money and having a certain social status will give you the life you’ve always dreamed of?

Before answering, you may want to read on…

What does living standards and quality of life really mean?

Searching the internet, I came across a group of analysts called “The World Order in the XXI Century”. They work on studying the social, human and geographical reality of our world.

a man being fed coins like a machine

In one of their articles about living standards, they define the concept as a person’s ability to acquire more and better goods, as well as services of better quality and in greater quantities.

That is to say, they directly relate income and purchasing ability. The more you earn, the more you can consume.


Following the same approach, they define quality of life as a person’s contribution to the world that promotes social well-being. 

In other words, it includes everything that contributes happiness, peace and satisfaction, at both the personal and collective level. This could be a high income, a vacation at any price level, or a simple pleasant chat.

Quality of life vs. high standard of living

The most striking part of the analysis given by the “World Order in the XXI Century” is an interesting comparison they make between different parts of the world. They compare standards of living and quality of life between several cities.

On the one hand, we find Calcutta or Dacca, cities in India and Bangladesh that are growing like crazy in this globalized world. Therefore, the living standards of their inhabitants increase exponentially each year, because their development is fast and impressive.

a mountain town in India

On the other hand, there is Thimphu, a city only a few kilometers from the economic heart of India. It’s the capital of Bhutan, a small country far from the hustle and bustle of globalization, financial markets and other economic worries.

While the cities of India are ever more industrial and contaminated — but with high living standards — the people of Bhutan live in nature, among rivers, working mostly in agriculture and with an income per person of only $1,300.

Who has the higher quality of life?

Now comes the big question. Who do you think has the better quality of life? An inhabitant of Bhutan lives in peace, working in nature, without much stress. He doesn’t need nor strive for more than what he has.

In fact, years ago one king of the country even enacted the GNH, which stands for Gross National Happiness.

In this study, psychological well-being, use of time, culture, health, education, vitality in the community and satisfaction with the government are considered, among other factors.

“Don’t waste your time, for that is the stuff life is made of”

-Benjamin Franklin-

On the other hand, countries like Brazil, India or China, constantly and rapidly growing, and even developed European countries like Spain, Germany and France, suffer from concerning levels of stress.

quality of life in an office work environment

So yes, studies say that all the great nations on the international stage, both developed and developing, have standards of living that are high or growing. But, at what cost?

“Sell not health to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power.”

-Benjamin Franklin-

And so now comes time for you to answer. Do you prefer high standards of living or quality of life? Do you think it’s better to accumulate money and riches or quality time and happiness?

To me it’s clear, I would go for quality of life. How about you?