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Why do levels of human welfare vary among nations?

Gough, Ian and Thomas, Theo (1994) Why do levels of human welfare vary among nations? International Journal of Health Services, 24 (4). pp. 715-748. ISSN 0020-7314

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Identification Number: 10.2190/KHAM-M986-W67T-56B7


This article investigates what factors explain the wide differences in human welfare among nations. Applying the theory of human need developed by Doyal and Gough, the authors construct a series of indicators of need satisfaction and use these to map contemporary national levels of welfare. They criticize past cross-national studies of welfare outcomes for using a single index of welfare, usually the Physical Quality of Life Index. A comprehensive model of national differences in need satisfaction is then developed. Seven theories are deployed and are tested against the evidence using path analysis, which permits different causal patterns to be simultaneously considered. The authors conclude that per capita incomes are only one of several factors explaining cross-national variations in need satisfaction: the degree of economic and political independence, the extent of democracy and human rights, the capacity and dispositions of the state, and relative gender equality all positively and independently affect a nation's level of welfare. Economic development alone cannot guarantee social development.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1994 Baywood Publishing Co.
Divisions: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2015 13:44
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2021 11:06

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