A composite index of quality of life for the Gauteng city-region: a principal component analysis approach

The improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans is high on the agenda at national (The National Planning Commission, 2012) and regional levels of government (The Gauteng Planning Commission, 2012) and it is therefore important to develop an instrument that can measure this multi-dimensional concept. The need therefore exists for a composite index of quality of life with the ability to both track the quality of life of people over time and compare it across different demographic and socio-economic groups. Such a measure could identify those demographic and socio-economic groups with low levels of quality of life and also highlight dimensions that need to be prioritised in order to improve the wellbeing of people.

In South Africa there are a limited number of quality of life indices and measures of wellbeing. Indices that measure wellbeing nationally include: the Quality of Life Index of Moller and Schlemmer (1983), the Living Standard Measure (LSM) Index produced by the South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) (2013), the South African Development Index of the South African Institute of Race Relations (2011), and the Everyday Quality of Life Index (Higgs, 2007). The following indices measure wellbeing at a regional level: the Quality of Metropolitan City Life in South Africa Index (Naude, et al., 2009), the Non-Economic Quality of Life Index at Sub-National Levels (Rossouw & Naude, 2008) and the Quality of Life Index of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO, 2011).

Although these quality of life indices make distinctive contributions to the study field, the focus of these studies is often to measure only objective or subjective quality of life or only economic or non-economic quality of life, rather than all of the above. Furthermore, many of the indices use equal weighting, which does not necessarily reflect the priorities of the communities.


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