standard of living

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standard of living

the general level of economic prosperity in an economy as measured by, for example, the level of per capita income (GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT divided by the size of the POPULATION). A country's standard of living will depend on such things as its level of economic maturity, investment and productivity and the provision by the government of various social welfare programmes. Advanced industrial countries like Japan (income per head $33,990 in 2003) and the UK (income per head $24,230 in 2003) are much more prosperous than developing countries such as the Upper Volta, Chad etc. (whose levels of income per head are less than $500).

standard of living

the monetary and nonmonetary elements that together make up a person's lifestyle. INCOME PER HEAD is used as a proxy for standard of living, although the PERSONAL DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME will mean that many people's incomes will differ from the average income. Another difficulty lies in assessing those benefits and costs that may improve a person's lifestyle but have no immediately attributable economic value. For example, two people may have identical salaries, but one may live in the country and have splendid scenery peace and quiet, no traffic jams when driving to work and little pollution, while the other may live in an industrial city that has considerable traffic jams, pollution, noise and crime. Monetary comparisons would suggest a similar standard of living, but this may not be the case. See ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.