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Home » Library » Discussion Papers » DP0902: Exploring the Impact of Public Services on Quality of Life Indicators


The fundamental aim of public services is to improve the quality of life of citizens.
The main objective of this study was to investigate the influence of public service
organisations (PSOs) on aspects of quality of life (very broadly defined) at a local
level. In doing so we addressed three main issues: we considered the degree to which
different PSOs can influence a range of aspects of the quality of life of citizens both
within and outside their usual domains of influence; we examined the degree to which
factors outside the control of PSOs (e.g. socio-demographic population
characteristics) influence quality of life outcomes; and we investigated at which
hierarchical level in the public sector service area there appears to be most scope to
influence quality of life of citizens. We assembled a database of quality of life
measures proposed by the Audit Commission covering areas such as safety, housing,
health, education, and transport, measured at “small area” level. We added data on
indicators of deprivation (to measure “needs” of the local population) and on the
performance of PSOs. We used a range of advanced statistical methods to analyse the
relationships between PSOs and quality of life measures at different hierarchical
levels. Our findings illustrate the level at which variation in quality of life indicators
is most apparent. It suggests that where those variations are large, there may be scope
to influence outcomes at that level to a greater extent than where the variations are
small. PSOs at higher levels may therefore have an important role in influencing
quality of life. However, the large variation found in many quality of life indicators at
small area level is also important. Whilst there are no PSOs with responsibility for
quality of life at this level, it indicates the importance of policies that operate at
neighbourhood and community level.

Full paper (PDF): DP0902 Exploring the Impact of Public Services on Quality of Life Indicators

Adriana Castelli, Rowena Jacobs, Maria Goddard, Peter C. Smith (University of York)