Fundamental indicators of quality of life include having sufficient nutrition, adequate accommodation and environment, social and psychological fulfillment, and health. Defining "quality of life" in greater detail than the above may be subjective. Individual, cultural, and ideological perceptions of life quality will vary. It may be argued that quality of life can be achieved at any mode of existence as long as there is fulfillment of some or all of the above factors. By the same token, contemporary development is seen as improving the quality of life by improving the conditions of the above factors to enable people to enjoy longer, healthier and fulfilling lives. Although development since the industrial revolution has significantly improved the lives of many people, many people, whether in developed or developing countries, have in the past as well as now suffered from the effects of modern development. Whether its effects are direct or indirect, perceived or real, modern development is responsible for creating and/or facilitating many of the world's ills. They include a sense of spiritual and cultural loss, environmental degradation, rapid population growth, third world debt, social unrest, unemployment, vastly increased capabilities of humanity's destructive potential, and a sense of declining societal standards. The phenomenon of modern development will almost certainly continue to dominate the transformation of the planet. It is argued, that the quality of human life can only be improved within the context of improving the nature of development.
Since modern development and life quality are strongly linked, modern developmental indicators such as life expectancy and literacy may be used to convey the quality of human life. Most lower-income countries have achieved improvements in some indicators over the past decades. Life expectancy has risen from 46 to 62 years. Adult literacy rate rose from 43% in 1970 to 60% in 1985. Food production per head has kept pace with or outstripped population growth in all continents except Africa.
Economic realities of world development also weigh most heavily on the poor countries, which borrow money in order to advance or sustain their level of development and quality of life. There is agreement from many parties that debt repayments should be scaled down or scraped, trade conditions improved, and international financial assistance increased in order to facilitate an improvement in the quality of life for most people.
The quality of our lives is dependent upon the quality of our environment, which is dependent upon the quality of our land use.
The world's basic needs for food, shelter and health are not being met. This is mainly the case in poorer countries, where in addition to experiencing rapid population growth rates, most of the world's population live. Rapid population growth leads to resource deficiencies and is a major cause why the quality of life continues to be undermined and in cases worsened for the majority of humanity. The number of people living in absolute poverty is likely to increase from 1,000 million to 1,500 million by the end of the century.