Programme Leader, Health and Wellbeing at The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP).
ISQOLS Board of Directors member, 2017-2018
Describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
Currently I am programme leader Health and wellbeing at The Netherlands Institute for social research (SCP). After I studied Political Science at the University of Amsterdam I came to work here in 1994. My research developed from statistical and methodological advisor to substantive research on quality of life. At the beginning I as involved in research on the wellbeing of children and helped colleagues constructing composite indicators, scales and indices. From 2001 on I became one of the editors of the bi-annual publication The social state of the Netherlands – one of the two major reports SCP publishes (the summary of the 2011 version can be found at https://www.scp.nl/english/Publications/Publications_by_year/Publications_2012/The_Social_State_of_the_Netherlands_2011_Summary - we are working on the English version of the 2017 edition in which we look back at 25 years of developments of quality of life and wellbeing in the Netherlands). This report describes and analyses developments in the social and cultural situation in the Netherland on various domains. Quality of life is the central concept – both in objective and subjective terms. The last chapter in the report is based on the SCP Life Situation Index, which summarizes the developments in the various domains. In 2010 I got my PhD on the backgrounds of the index and the choices we have made in constructing it (Wellbeing in the Netherlands -https://www.scp.nl/english/Publications/Publications_by_year/Publications_2010/Wellbeing_in_the_Netherlands).
Other topics I have done research on all relate to quality of life in one way or another. Like research on sustainability (in cooperation with colleagues from Statistics Netherlands, Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency I published three sustainability reports); disparities in the Netherlands (a large report about the rise of social classes in the Netherlands); happiness and the role of governments; and the neighborhood (socio-economic) status development.
What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
Research on differences between groups, the reasons for these differences and specifically why some groups lag behind is in my view important for policymakers to give more people a better future. For me, not only scientific research is important, but also the translation of research results into policy relevant conclusions.
What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
My hope is that quality of life indicators becomes as important as economic indicators, especially for policy-makers. We could improve the policy-relevance of our research. Important too, in my view, is to stop making new indices. Instead, we should choose one existing index and start working on the acceptance of it, no matter how many problems have to be solved. GNP is not ideal either… As Amartya Sen once put it: ‘We need a measure of the same level of vulgarity as GNP – just one number- but a measure that is not as blind to social aspects of human lives as GNP is.’
How long have you been a member of ISQOLS?Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I have been a member of ISQOLS since 1996 or 1997. The first conference I attended was the 1998 one in Williamsburg. I liked and like the friendly atmosphere of the conferences, the broad scope of the research that is presented and the multidisciplinary background of the visitors.
The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS)