The Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI)

Dev Dig. 1980 Jan;18(1):95-109.


PIP: Life expectancy at age 1, infant mortality, and literacy are used as indicators of development, describing progress in health, sanitation, education, and women's status. Gross National Product (GNP) is the standard measure of progress but does not show how output is distributed. The Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) is a summation of complex social interrelationships on which no theoretical explanation imposes any given weights/biases. Equal weight is assigned to each component. The life expectancy in Nigeria is 49, infant mortality, 180/1000, and literacy, 25%. The PQLI is 25. The life expectancy at age 1 in the U.S. is 72, infant mortality 16/1000, and literacy 99%, and the PQLI is 94. The PQLI informs about the changing distribution of social benefits among countries, between the sexes, among ethnic groups, and by region and sector. The PQLI facilitates international and regional comparisons by minimizing developmental and cultural ethnocentricities. As the gap closes between current performance and maximum attainable performance, the gaps between PQLI indicies should close. The PQLI, with signs of lowered infant mortality and lengthened life expectancy, paints a less fatalistic pessimistic picture than the GNP.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Data Collection*
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries
  • Education*
  • Health
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Mortality
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Dynamics
  • Research
  • Social Change