Quality of Life and Quality of Living Conditions in Rural Areas: Distinctively Perceived and Quantitatively Distinguished

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In the last decades, large amount of effort and resources have been spent in projects and programs aiming to develop rural communities. The ultimate goal of such projects is supposed to be the improvement of the Quality of Life (QOL) of these communities. Although improving the Quality of the Living Conditions (QLC) is an acceptable strategy to reach that goal, all too often there is significant confusion between the two concepts. In this paper we argue that QLC and QOL can not be dissociated, but they are distinct. Our hypothesis is that we can make this distinction objectively. For that purpose, we develop an Index of the Quality of Living Conditions (IQLC) and an Index of the Quality of Life (IQOL). Each index is obtained by combining partial indicators of the conditions of several aspects in several dimensions (e.g., social, environmental, and economic). While the assessment of living conditions to obtain the IQLC is done by project staff, the IQOL is based on the manifestation of the farmers about their satisfaction in living those conditions. The IQLC and the IQOL result, then, from different views of the same aspects of life in a given context. Therefore, their objective measurement can be a useful instrument to evaluate the effectiveness of improvements on living conditions proposed by institutions and their professionals to improve the quality of life of rural communities.

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