“Standard of Living ” vs “Quality of Life”

If you’re like me, sometimes those phrases blur together in the gray matter, and you need a reminder that they are entirely different things. My most recent reminder came from spending some months in Mexico, after which it struck me that the standard of living is higher in the US but the quality of life is higher in Mexico. I.e., in the US everyone has cars, people have more expensive things in their homes, etc. But in Mexico – at least in my experience living in Guanajuato and visiting a number of other towns – there is more day-to-day human content. I could walk down my street any time of day or evening and there were people everywhere – families, street vendors, buskers, teenagers. If I walked a mile or more, I would likely run into at least one person I knew, and given the pace of life, we might stop for a drink or poke around in an open mercado. How many times did I stumble upon an impromptu art opening or free movie night?

In Mexico, I spent hardly any money, had no car or nice “things,” but when life is full, nice things are superfluous. And when people live their lives out on the streets in the community, life may have ups and downs, but it will almost certainly be full. There is more life, more beating heart, in Mexico. At least for me. I do not want to generalize – at least not about quality of life. The standard of living is more quantifiable, and I can generalize that it is higher in the US. Quality of life is more subjective and certainly varies from place to place within those two countries (and varies from person to person). So I can’t really conclude that the quality of life in Mexico is irrefutably higher than in the US. It’s just that for me, Mexico was my reminder: standard of living and quality of life are two different things. You might have a different reminder. But it’s nice to reflect on that once in a while for perspective.

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24 thoughts on ““Standard of Living ” vs “Quality of Life”

  1. Very true, I’m sure this comparison could apply to many places. As a pedestrian and non driver I think the car has a lot to answer for, sealing people off from each other. The more people walking about the neighbourhood, the more everyone gets to know each other. Walk to where you want to go or take your dog for a walk and you will meet other people, enjoy looking at front gardens and use local shops.

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  2. Pingback: Quality of Life – The School of Mind

  3. I absolutely agree with you. That’s the paradox with poor or rich societies, wealth doesn’t seem to equate with happiness, and on the other hand poverty doesn’t equate with unhappiness. I really enjoyed reading this, it is a healthy reminder 🙂

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  4. It seems most everyone agrees with you; however, I think you are comparing apples and oranges. I think small towns in Mexico are about the same as small towns in the USA, from my limited experience. Big towns in the USA, like Chicago, LA, NYC are much different than smaller towns in the USA like (decided not to name a few since I’m sure they don’t think of themselves as small towns, but they are compared to the three I mentioned. I’ve never been to Mexico City, but I suspect it is much different than the places in Mexico that you are referring two. I suspect Mexico City is more like NYC. Just my perspective.

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    • Fine points, Wm. Allen. Much variation in both places. Mexico happened to be my reminder of the difference between those two concepts. Others may have different experiences and different reminders, but it’s always nice to have a reminder 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: “Standard of Living ” vs “Quality of Life” – Timeless Wisdoms

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