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Ruut Veenhoven

The terms ‘quality-of-life’ and ‘happiness’ have different meanings; sometimes they are used as an umbrella term for all of value, and other times to denote special merits. This chapter is about the specific meanings of the terms. I distinguish four qualities of life, one of which is subjective appreciation with life. Next I distinguish four kinds of appreciation, one of which is ‘happiness’ in the limited sense of the word. On the basis of this conceptual differentiation I inspect what is measured by some current measures of quality of life. I discuss several weaknesses of these measures and show that quality of life cannot be measured comprehensively. The most comprehensive measure of quality of life is how long and happily people live, which is entirely measurable.

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Ruut Veenhoven

Social scientists are producing an ever-growing stream of research findings, which is becoming ever more difficult to oversee. This situation calls for more research synthesis. To date, attention has been focused on statistical methods for meta-analysis, with little attention has been paid to the preliminary step of bringing available research findings together. What we need are: (1) techniques for describing research findings in a comparable way; (2) a system for storing such descriptions in an easily accessible archive; and (3) a means to add research findings to this system on a continuous basis. The World Database of Happiness is an example of such a tool. In this chapter, the author describes how it works and illustrates its use with an overview of research findings on two topics: (1) the relation between happiness and air pollution; and (2) the relation between happiness and economic growth. As yet, there is no established name for this technique, which the author calls a ‘findings archive’.

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Maarten Berg and Ruut Veenhoven

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Bruce Kirkcaldy, Adrian Furnham and Ruut Veenhoven