Author:Choi, Young Chool
Position:Life satisfaction - Report


Leading classical economists argue that an increase in income is one of the most important factors affecting the increasing of happiness. However, Easterlin (1974) argues that from a whole-society point of view, an increase in national income is not proportional to an increase in happiness. Following Easterlin's proposition, a great deal of research has been carried out investigating the factors associated with happiness over a short time- period. As a result of research on happiness conducted from a sociological, economic and public administration point of view, similar terms to happiness, such as 'well-being', 'quality of life' and 'life satisfaction', have been generated. Although the factors which these terms have primarily emphasized have been different, in the real world it is not easy to differentiate between them. Of these similar terms, this paper addresses 'community well-being', which currently occupies the attention of a number of scholars but which has nevertheless not been discussed in depth. In so doing it attempts to identify the causal structure of the factors associated with community well-being and to put forward a number of theoretical and policy-related suggestions for increasing it.


Similar Terms: Happiness, Well-Being, Quality of Life, Life Satisfaction

The classical origin of happiness relates back to the idea of hedonism. Hedonism in ancient times was divided into physical and spiritual pleasure and was approached from an individual rather than a collective point of view. That is to say, happiness was primarily linked to the maximization of pleasure from an individual point of view. Happiness has been a topic of interest for many centuries, from the period of Ancient Greek philosophy, through postEnlightenment Western European moral philosophy, up to current quality-of-life and well-being research in the social, political and economic sciences. Nowadays, happiness as a concept seems to be readily embraced by a majority of people and appears to be more valued than the pursuit of money, moral goodness or the idea of going to heaven (Michalos, 2008; Barendregt et al., 2016; Broyd et al., 2016; Currie, 2015; Diener et al., 2015; Ferreira et al., 2015).

Quality of life (QOL) relates to the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining the negative and positive features of life. It observes life satisfaction, including everything from physical health, education, family, employment and wealth, to religious beliefs, finance and the environment. QOL applies in a wide range of contexts, including in the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. It should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines quality of life as being concerned with life-aims, expectations and standards reflecting one's individual life circumstances. This definition is a comprehensive one and embraces individuals' physical health, psychological state, degree of dependency, social relations and personal interests (Garg, 2017; Leon & Liew, 2017: Lv & Xie, 2017: Madsen & Holmberg, 2015; Sanjuan et al., 2016; Tovel & Carmel, 2016; Verduyn et al., 2017; Vozikaki, et al., 2017; Winkler et al., 2015; Wu & Tam, 2015).

Life satisfaction represents one's own assessment of one's own life. One is 'satisfied' when there is little or no discrepancy between the present and what is thought to be an ideal or deserved situation. By contrast, dissatisfaction is the result of a substantial discrepancy between present conditions and the ideal standard. Dissatisfaction can also be a result of comparing oneself with others.

The term 'well-being' is not a historical concept, but a comparatively recently- appearing social ideology emphasizing health. The key element underlying well-being is health. In the early stage of the concept's history, the concept of health, defined as the absence of illness, was based on the biomedical model, but in recent times it is more closely linked to the social model, emphasizing social and environmental context (Jones, 1994). In 1974, WHO insisted that well-being is not restricted to health but comprehends physical, psychological, spiritual, mental and social aspects, as well as subjective and objective aspects? 'Well-being' is a general term for the condition of an individual or group. A high level of well-being means that the individual or group's condition is in some sense positive. It may be characterized as follows:

  1. First, well-being embraces material and psychological aspects.

  2. Second, it relates more closely to the positive and balanced conditions of life of individuals and groups.

  3. Third, it emphasizes the balanced and objective aspects of life.

  4. Fourth, it is related not only to individuals but to place as well.

  5. Fifth, it is also concerned with people's standards of living in terms of subjective and objective aspects and also with physical and psychological aspects.

    Therefore, 'well-being' differs in its implications from other terms, in that it is closely related to community.

    Community Well-Being

    As discussed above, the meanings of closely related terms such as 'happiness', 'quality of life' and 'well-being' are difficult to differentiate. However, from a public administration point of view, 'well-being' is the most important, since while happiness and life satisfaction relate to psychology and quality of life relates to economics and other related disciplines, 'well-being' is linked to public administration. This is because well-being is closely connected with the subjective and objective conditions of life and these conditions can be improved via public policy. Second, well-being is also closely concerned with a spatial unit such as community. As the discipline of public administration aims to improve both of these two aspects, we can say that community well-being is closely related to public administration. From this perspective, then, community well-being may be defined as that state in which a community containing local residents meets the subjective and objective conditions of life and also is positive in terms of the two conditions of life (1).

    The concept of community requires further definition. What does 'community' mean? McMillan & Chavis (1986) suggest that it contains four elements: membership, influence, integration and fulfilment of needs and shared emotional connection. Among other things, we can say that a community is a small or large social unit (a group of people) who have something in common, such as norms, religion, values or identity. Communities often share a sense of place, being situated in a given geographical area or in a virtual space through communication platforms. Durable relations that extend beyond immediate geographical ties also define a sense of community.

    To sum up, community is a spatial unit within which residents have emotional identity and unity regarding local issues and have responsibility for solving their common problems. Residents within a community are expected to be concerned with their community and their emotional identity relative to each other and are also required to be willing to bear financial burdens on matters facing them. In other words, a community is a spatial unit in which...

To continue reading