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Does having money mean a nice life and happiness?

This lesson introduces quality of life is a multi-strand concept and means more than the accumulation of wealth; and some people think happiness should be part of the equation

Key questions

What is Quality of Life (QoL)?

Does it vary with place?

Who wants to be a billionaire – and why?

What is Quality of Life (QoL)?

The wellbeing or quality of life of a population is usually measured by many social and economic factors. Most of it relates to standard of living, the amount of money, health and access to goods and services that people have and these are quite easily measured. Other factors like happiness, environmental health and innovation are harder to measure.

The Human Development Index or HDI gives a quick way to compare countries’ development. It is also used to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. It combines data for income (GDP per capita PPP), life expectancy, adult literacy, and enrolment in education, to give each country a sore between zero and one. The higher the value, the higher the level of human development.

Does it vary with place?

Maps of HDI are a good way to see the spatial distribution of human development. They can be colour-coded or use proportional symbols. Read the latest Human Development Report.

Who wants to be a billionaire – and why? 

Students should be able to return to the original question and title of this module with a more informed answer.  They should be more informed after having explored seven key areas of economic geography/development studies, looked at where in the world important economic changes are taking place and the issues that arise from these changes, explained how the UK and other places are interdependent, and looked at the origin of the wealth of Asian and Middle Eastern billionaires. 

They should have a better understanding of whether money is the most important factor in quality of life. They should have thought about what is happening in different parts of the world today and what it means to both to them and to people in other countries and consider whether billionaires – who like them are 'global citizens' (but often live and work in many different places) have special responsibilities and what these might be. They might have had opportunities to discuss fairness, democracy and the reasoning behind progressive / redistributive taxation, good causes that would benefit from the considerable gifts that billionaires are in a position to donate, and lastly, what makes people happy.



How much money would you need to make your vision of perfect happiness?

Write down a wish-list of things that would make you happiest. Include:

  • Where you are, to be at your happiest (At home? On a beach in a hot country?)

  • Who is with you to make you happiest (Friends? Your idol?)

  • What you are doing that makes you so happy (Talking? Buying expensive clothes?)

Discuss with classmate and compare your vision of happiness and how much money you would need to achieve it.

Main Activity

Have you got a good Quality of Life (QoL)? 

Quality of life is about how well people live in a country.

You already know about comparing countries by income (GDP and by PPP).

Neither of these tell us whether people have safe water, enough doctors, or are able to go to school. So QoL is a combination of social and economic factors.

What is Human Development Index? 

In the UK we are high up on the HDI rankings at 18 out of 177 in 2006.

So why is ‘wealth' is often seen as the most important indicator of differences between different countries and societies?  

What might the geography of happiness look like? Look at the following happiness maps and league tables.

How do your GDP and PPP rankings from the last lesson compare with these ‘happiness' scores?

Geographers often ask what the differences between Quality of Life and development are.

You may wish to research more about development.


Who wants to be a billionaire – and why? 

  • How many in your class want to be a billionaire now?

  • Are super rich celebrities happy?

  • Who thinks being super-rich will make them happy?

  • Who would want to share that wealth to help make other people happy?

  • What places (and people) could benefit most from greater sharing of the world’s wealth?

  • Does happiness even exist or is it always an unachievable go

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Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? Lesson 7 Quality of Life Sheet


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Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? Lesson 7 Quality of Life Sheet (1)


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Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? Lesson 7 HDI Sheet


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Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? Lesson 7 HDI Sheet (1)


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