Quality of life movement: Historical overview of the policies and challenges for the future of education

Denis Francesconi*, Massimiliano Tarozzi, Kirsi Bykachev, Tarja V¨alim¨aki Vaalimaki, Hannele Turunen, Venka Simovska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Since the early 1990s, there has been a paradigm shift in human development theory due to a slow but steady increase in the attention paid to the concepts of quality of life, wellbeing and happiness. Accordingly, some scientists have questioned the validity of Gross Domestic Product as a tool to explain the wealth and development of nations, and several institutions and scholars have started to provide new policies and indexes to measure both subjective and collective wellbeing. These include, among others, the so-called Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report, the OECD’s Better Life Initiative, the Quality of Life in Europe and the United Nations’ World Happiness Index. At the moment, a comprehensive and critical historical review of this trend is still missing, as well as its impact on
education systems. In this paper, we first review the historical development of what has been called the ‘Quality of Life movement’ (QoL movement) and the major trends and indexes currently available for measuring the quality of life and wellbeing. We then present some education policy initiatives as examples of the attempt to implement QoL discourse into education systems. We conclude by outlining critical theoretical considerations of how the QoL movement could impact future education policies and systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Futures in Education
Pages (from-to)868-885
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • quality of life movement
  • wellbeing education
  • critical education
  • education systems
  • beyond Gross Domestic Product
  • quality of life policies
  • Skolehistorie
  • Uddannelsespolitik


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