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Home » Research Projects » Exploring the Impact of Public Services on Quality of Life Indicators

Feeling better now?

Do public services have an impact on our quality of life?

To most people awareness of public services is local, direct and immediate: do I feel safe on the streets or in my home? Is the school providing my child with the education they need? Will the doctor or hospital look after me when I’m hurt or sick? Public services are expected to make a major contribution to our quality of life. Yet it is not necessarily straightforward to trace the direct link between the specific actions of the public services and their impact on quality of life. For example, what are the contributions of the various public service organisations to citizens’ perceptions of personal safety?

This study take as its starting point ten themes of quality of life indicators drawn up by the Audit Commission in England, in areas such as housing, community safety, education and health. However, these individual indicators are heavily inter-reliant: it is not only increased health-care provision, but also better housing, improved safety and enhanced educational opportunities that have an impact on the health and well-being of a community. The aims of this study are to gain an understanding of the ways in which public service organisations influence indicators of quality of life at a local level, and to make quantitative estimates of that contribution.

What the research means for policymakers and the wider community

This study will provide policymakers at both national and local levels with useful new insights to help shape and assess the performance of public services. This study will help to:

Research Methods

This study will assemble and analyze a comprehensive dataset (based on quality of life indicators, various measures of deprivation and some additional performance indicators) of key public services at a local level in England. The dataset will be organised in a ‘hierarchical’ structure which allows analysis at different levels of geographical aggregation, and allows us to estimate the affects on quality of life indicators of alternative public service investments (for instance improving housing as against additional health care investment).

Project Outputs

Project Poster 2009

Jacobs R. Which Services Improve our Quality of Life? Britain in 2010 magazine 2009:39.

Programme Discussion Paper 0902 (May 2009): Exploring the Impact of Public Services on Quality of Life Indicators [23 pages]

Centre for Health Economics Research Paper 48 (May 2009): Exploring the Impact of Public Services on Quality of Life Indicators [94 pages]

Castelli A, Jacobs R, Goddard M, Smith P. Geographical variation in quality of life: The role of public service organisations. Policy Discussion Briefing, Centre for Health Economics, University of York; 2009.

Research Team

Rowena Jacobs

Rowena Jacobs

Rowena Jacobs is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York and works in the Department of Health funded Health Policy Research Programme. She has a PhD in Economics from the University of York. Her research focuses on performance measurement in health care, and the associated methodological, analytical and policy issues. She has acted as a consultant to various national and international agencies, including the World Bank and the WHO.

Email: rj3@york.ac.uk

Maria Goddard

Maria Goddard

Maria Goddard is Professor of Health Economics and Assistant Director of the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. She leads the Health Policy research team and her main interests are performance measurement, regulating and contracting in health care systems. She also worked for three years as an Economic Advisor in the Department of Health.

Email: mg23@york.ac.uk

Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Peter C. Smith is Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. His research interests include public finance and public service regulation. He has advised numerous national and international agencies, including the OECD, the WHO and government ministries, and is a commissioner at the Audit Commission.

Email: pcs1@york.ac.uk

Adriana Castelli

Adriana Castelli

Adriana Castelli is a Research Fellow in the Health Policy team in the Centre for Health Economics. She is also working towards the completion of her PhD thesis at the University of York under the supervision of Prof. Anthony J. Culyer. Her research interests are in the area of decentralisation, health care and equity. She is working on a major project funded by the Department of Health, designed to contribute to the understanding and measurement of NHS outputs and productivity.

ac52@york.ac.uk