Human Well-being: Issues, Concepts and Measures

  • Mark McGillivray
Part of the Studies in Development Economics and Policy book series (SDEP)


National governments, civil society organizations and international agencies have for many years assembled and reported data on achieved human wellbeing, be it for individuals, families, regions or countries. Human well-being achievement at the level of countries receives special attention. It is now commonplace for international agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, to publish annual reports that rank countries according to various well-being or well-being related indicators.


Gross Domestic Product Human Development Index Purchase Power Parity Gross National Product Gross National Income 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acharya, A. and H. J. Wall (1994) ‘An Evaluation of the United Nations’ Human Development Index’, Journal of Economic and Social Development, 20 (1): 51–65.Google Scholar
  2. Ahluwalia, M. and H. Chenery (1974) ‘The Economic Framework’, in H. Chenery, M. S. Ahluwalia, C. L. G. Bell, J. H. Duloy and R. Jolly (eds), Redistribution with Growth (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  3. Alkire, S. (2002) ‘Dimensions of Human Development’, World Development, 30 (2): 181–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allardt, E. (1993), ‘Having, Loving, Being: An Alternative to the Swedish Model of Welfare Research’, in M. Nussbaum and A. Sen (eds), The Quality of Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press for UNU-WIDER) 88–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anand, S. and A. Sen (1992) ‘Human Development Index: Methodology and Measurement’, Background Paper for Human Development Report 1993 (New York: UNDP).Google Scholar
  6. Anand, S. and A. Sen (2000a) ‘The Income Component of the Human Development Index’, Journal of Human Development, 1 (1): 83–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Anand, S. and A. Sen (2000b) ‘Human Development and Economic Sustainability’, World Development, 28 (12): 2029–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Andrews, F. M. and S. B. Withey (1976) Social Indicators of Well-being: Americans’ Perceptions of Life Quality (New York: Plenum Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Argyle, M. (1987) The Psychology of Happiness (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  10. Bardhan, K. and S. Klasen (1999) ‘UNDP’s Gender-Related Indices: A Critical Review’, World Development, 27 (6): 985–1010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blackwood, D. L. and R. G. Lynch (1994) ‘The Measurement of Inequality and Poverty: A Policy Makers Guide to the Literature’, World Development, 22 (4): 567–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Campbell, A., P. E. Converse and W. L. Rodgers (1976) The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations and Satisfactions (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).Google Scholar
  13. Chambers, R. (1994) ‘The Origins and Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal’, World Development, 22: 953–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, C. (1940) Conditions of Economic Progress (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  15. Cummins, R. A. (1996) ‘Domains of Life Satisfaction: An Attempt to Order Chaos’, Social Indicators Research, 38 (3): 303–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cummins, R. A. (1998) ‘The Second Approximation to an International Standard of Life Satisfaction’, Social Indicators Research, 43: 307–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cummins, R. A., R. Eckersley, J. Pallant, J. van Vugt and R. Misajon (2003) ‘Developing an Index of Subjective Well-being: The Australian Unity Well-being Index’, Social Indicators Research, 64: 159–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Daly, H. and H. E. Cobb (1989) For the Common Good (Boston: Beacon Press).Google Scholar
  19. Dasgupta, P. (2001) Human Well-being and the Natural Environment (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diener, E. (1984) ‘Subjective Well-being’, Psychological Bulletin, 95: 542–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E. and R. J. Larsen (1993) ‘The Experience of Emotional Well-being’, in M. Lewis and J. M. Haviland (eds), Handbook of Emotions (New York: Guilford).Google Scholar
  22. Doyal, L. and I. Gough (1991) A Theory of Human Need (Basingstoke: Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Doyal, L. and I. Gough (1993) ‘Need Satisfaction as a Measure of Human Welfare’, in W. Blass and J. Foster (eds), Mixed Economies in Europe (London: Edward Elgar).Google Scholar
  24. Easterlin, R. A. (1974) ‘Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence’, in P. A. David and M. W. Reder (eds), Nations and Households in Economic Growth. Essays in Honour of Moses Abramovitz (New York: Academic Press).Google Scholar
  25. Easterlin, R. A. (2001) ‘Income and Happiness: Towards a Unified Theory’, Economic Journal, 111 (473): 465–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Eid, M. and E. Diener (2003) ‘Global Judgements of Subjective Well-being: Situational Variability and Long-term Stability’, Social Indicators Research, 65: 245–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Finnis, J. (1980) Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press).Google Scholar
  28. Foster, J., J. Greer and E. Thorbecke (1984) ‘A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures’, Econometrica, 52: 761–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Galtung, J. (1994) Human Rights in Another Key (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
  30. Gasper, D. (2002) ‘Is Sen’s Capability Approach an Adequate Basis for Considering Human Development?’, Review of Political Economy, 14 (4): 435–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gasper, D. (2004) ‘Human Well-being: Concepts and Conceptualizations’, WIDER Discussion Paper 2004/06 (Helsinki: UNU-WIDER).Google Scholar
  32. Grisez, G., J. Boyle and J. Finnis (1987) ‘Practical Principles, Moral Truth and Ultimate Ends’, American Journal of Jurisprudence, 32: 99–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hanmer, L., G. Pyatt and H. White (1997) Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: What Can we Learn from the World Bank’s Poverty Assessments (The Hague: Institute of Social Studies Advisory Service).Google Scholar
  34. Hicks, N. and P. Streeten (1979) ‘Indicators of Development: The Search for a Basic Needs Yardstick’, World Development, 7: 567–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ivanova, I., F. J. Arcelus and G. Srinivasan (1998) ‘An Assessment of the Measurement Properties of the Human Development Index’, Social Indicators Research, 46: 157–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kelley, A. C. (1991) ‘The Human Development Index: “Handle with Care”’, Population and Development Review, 17 (2): 315–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laderchi, C. R. (2001) ‘Participatory Methods in the Analysis of Poverty: A Critical Review’, QEH Working Paper Series 62 (Oxford: Queen Elizabeth House).Google Scholar
  38. Lambert, P. J. (2001) The Distribution and Redistribution of Income (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  39. Lasswell, H. D. (1992) Jurisprudence for a Free Society: Studies in Law, Science and Policy (New Haven: New Haven Press).Google Scholar
  40. Max-Neef, M. (1993) Human Scale Development: Conception, Application, and Further Reflections (London: Apex Press).Google Scholar
  41. McGillivray, M. (2005) ‘Measuring non-Economic Well-being Achievement’, Review of Income and Wealth, 51 (2): 337–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McGillivray, M. and R. Pillarisetti (2006) ‘Adjusting Well-being Indicators for Gender Disparities. Empirically Insightful?’, in M. McGillivray and M. Clarke (eds), Understanding Human Well-being (Tokyo: United Nations University Press for UNUWIDER).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McGillivray, M. and H. White (1993) ‘Measuring Development? The UNDP’s Human Development Index’, Journal of International Development, 5 (2): 183–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Morris, M. D. (1979) Measuring the Conditions of the World’s Poor: The Physical Quality of Life Index (New York: Pergamon).Google Scholar
  45. Morse, S. (2003) ‘For Better or for Worse, till the Human Development Index do us Part?’, Ecological Economics, 45 (2): 281–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Narayan, D., R. Chambers, M. K. Shah and P. Petesch (2000) Voices of the Poor: Crying out for Change (New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neumayer, E. (1999) ‘The ISEW: Not an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare’, Social Indicators Research, 48: 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neumayer, E. (2001) ‘The Human Development Index and Sustainability — A Constructive Proposal’, Ecological Economics, 39 (1): 101–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Noorbakhsh, F. (1998) ‘A Modified Human Development Index’, World Development, 26 (3): 517–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nordhaus, W. and J. Tobin (1972) ‘Is Growth Obsolete?’, Economic Growth (New York: NBER and Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  51. Nussbaum, M. C. (2000) Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pillarisetti, J. R. and M. McGillivray (1998) ‘Human Development and Gender Empowerment: Conceptual and Measurement Issues’, Development Policy Review, 16 (2): 197–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Qizilbash, M. (1996a) ‘Capabilities, Well-being and Human Development: A Survey’, Journal of Development Studies, 33 (2): 143–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Qizilbash, M. (1996b) ‘Ethical Development’, World Development, 24 (7): 1209–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ramsay, M. (1992) Human Needs and the Market (Aldershot: Avebury).Google Scholar
  56. Rawls, J. (1993) Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
  57. Sagar, A. and A. Najam (1998) ‘The Human Development Index: A Critical Review’, Ecological Economics, 25: 249–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Saith, R. and B. Harriss-White (1999) ‘The Gender Sensitivity of Well-being Indicators’, Development and Change, 30 (3): 465–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schwartz, S. H. (1994) ‘Are there Universal Aspects in the Structure and Contents of Human Values?’, Journal of Social Issues, 50 (4): 19–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Seers, D. (1972) ‘What are we Trying to Measure?’, Journal of Development Studies, 8 (3): 21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sen, A. K. (1976) ‘Poverty: An Ordinal Approach to Measurement’, Econometrica, 44: 219–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sen, A. K. (1982) Choice, Welfare and Measurement (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).Google Scholar
  63. Sen, A. K. (1985) Commodities and Capabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  64. Sen, A. K. (1993) ‘Capability and Well-being’, in M. Nussbaum and A. Sen (eds), The Quality of Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press for UNU-WIDER).Google Scholar
  65. Sen, A. K. (1999) Development as Freedom (New York: Knopf).Google Scholar
  66. Shorrocks, A. F. (1983) ‘Ranking Income Distributions’, Economica, 50: 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Skevington, S. M, M. Lotfy and K. A. O’Connell (2004) ‘The World Health Organization’s WHOQOL-BREF Quality of Life Assessment: Psychometric Properties and Results of the International Field Trial. A Report from the WHOQOL Group’, Quality of Life Research, 23 (2): 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stewart, F. (1985) Basic Needs in Developing Countries (Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  69. Travers, P. and S. Richardson (1997) ‘Material Well-Being and Human Well-Being’, in F. Ackerman, D. Kiron, N. R. Goodwin, J. M. Harris and K. Gallagher (eds), Human Well-Being and Economic Goals (Washington DC: Island Press).Google Scholar
  70. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (1990–2004) Human Development Report (New York: Oxford University Press for UNDP).Google Scholar
  71. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2003) Latvia Human Development Report 2002/2003 (Riga: UNDP).Google Scholar
  72. UN Millennium Project Report (2005) Investing in Development: A Practical Plan for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (New York: UNDP).Google Scholar
  73. Veenhoven, R. (1993) Happiness in Nations. Subjective Appreciation of Life in 56 Nations, 1946–1992 (Rotterdam: Erasmus University).Google Scholar
  74. Veenhoven, R. (2004) World Happiness Database,
  75. WHOQOL Group (1994) ‘Development of the WHOQOL: Rationale and Current Status’, International Journal of Mental Health, 23: 24–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. WHOQOL Group (1998) ‘The World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL): Development and General Psychometric Properties’, Social Science and Medicine, 46: 551–8.Google Scholar
  77. World Bank (1969–2004) World Bank Atlas (Washington, DC: World Bank).Google Scholar
  78. World Bank (1977–2004) World Development Report (New York: Oxford University Press for the World Bank).Google Scholar
  79. Zolotas, X. (1981) Economic Growth and Declining Social Welfare (New York: New York University Press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© United Nations University 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark McGillivray

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations