Life Quality Index – an empirical or a normative concept?

Ove Dalager Ditlevsen, Peter Friis-Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The Life Quality Index introduced by Nathwani, Lind and Pandey is a social indicator that by invariance serves the purpose of allocating a balanced and ethically reasonable part of the Gross Domestic Product of a country to life saving initiatives. In the attempts to understand the reasoning behind the construction of the LQI one may ask whether the LQI is built on empirical evidence of social behavior that implies the modeled balance between the free time and the work time. Even if so, one may ask whether the invariance principle is a fact of social life or a normative principle of ethical social behavior. By using a dimensionless representation of the work time value production and the free time and an optimal balancing of the two against each other, it is demonstrated that there is a specific mathematical formula that connects work time and value productivity. Moreover, comparisons of the theory and available OECD-data show that the theory quite well represents the data for several countries. From the logical analysis of the theory it can be concluded that the empirical evidence cannot support the invariance principle of the LQI for money allocation as an empirically verified rule, but only as a normative rule of practice. Discrepancies between the logics of the derivations of existing variants of the LQI are made clear. It appears that these discrepancies are mostly epistemological in nature and of less importance for the practical applications.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Risk Assessment and Management
Issue number6/7
Pages (from-to)895-921
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Life Quality Index
  • LQI definition
  • work time economy
  • balanced societal economy
  • LQTAI definition

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