Quality of life is influenced by the physical and social characteristics of people’s direct surroundings. Previous research by Eurofound on housing acknowledged the importance of such ‘local area aspects’ beyond the dwelling, and the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) includes numerous questions which relate to people’s local living conditions.
This working paper offers a conceptual framework to explore the ‘local area dimensions of quality of life’. It takes a comprehensive approach, providing a framework applicable to all types of areas in the EU, whether they are rural or urban, affluent or deprived. The paper aims to inform policy makers, researchers, and other stakeholders, including those involved in developing measurement frameworks.
First, the paper discusses the definition and span of the local area. It then highlights challenges in capturing a key general characteristic of the local area – its degree of urbanisation. Following the conceptual discussion, a framework is proposed. The framework is then populated with examples of local area aspects identified by mapping questions in international surveys which concern specific aspects of the local area, complemented with evidence from the literature. Among the examples is a service provided by COFACE member Fundaçao Liga in Portugal which aims to enhance social connections and support of older people in the Lisbon area. The paper finishes by discussing how interlinkages of these aspects are important when designing policies to improve quality of life in the local area. Illustrations are provided of measures aiming to improve quality of life across the different local area dimensions, and the dimensions in the framework are illustrated with data from the EQLS. More information about the paper here