Quality of life

Updated: 1 December 2022

Next update: Not yet determined

Share of people with low satisfaction with life all in all
Share of people with low satisfaction with life all in all

About the statistics

The statistics map the subjective quality of life in the population and highlight differences in quality of life between different groups. The themes included are satisfaction with life and different areas of life, experience of meaning and mastery, and presence of positive and negative emotions. The statistics are based on the national survey of Quality of Life.

Indicators of quality of life: The statistics include the following indicators of quality of life:

Satisfaction with different areas of life:

  • Life all in all
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • The place one lives
  • Leisure time available
  • Financial situation

Experience of meaning and mastery

  • Optimism for the future
  • Experience of meaning in life
  • Experience of commitment
  • Experience of mastery
  • Rewarding social relationships

Presence of positive and negative emotions

  • Preponderance of positive and negative emotions

The indicators are based on answers given on a scale from 0-10, where 0 is "not satisfied at all" and 10 is "very satisfied/to a very large extent". The exception to this is Experience of mastery, where answers are given on a scale from 1-5, where 1 is "completely disagree" and 5 is "completely agree".

Low/medium/high quality of life: The answers have been grouped so that answers from 0 to 5 indicate a low score (low satisfaction/quality of life), answers from 6 to 8 indicate a medium score (medium satisfaction/quality of life), and answers from 9 to 10 indicates a high score (high satisfaction/quality of life).

The exceptions are the indicators for Experience of commitment and Experience of mastery.

Experience of commitment is the average score on three questions about commitment, on a scale from 0-10. On this indicator, the groups are: 0-5.0 = low score, 5.1-8.0 = medium score and 8.1-10 = high score.

Experience of mastery is the sum of scores on five questions about mastery, on a scale of 1-5. On this indicator, the groups are: 5-14 = low score, 15-21 = medium score, 22-25 = high score.

A meaningful grouping of low and high scores depends on looking at the distribution in the population. Since the scores on quality of life questions are generally skewed, with a preponderance of scores on the upper part of the scale, this means that the grouping of high/low scores must also be adapted in order to be able to meaningfully separate out the people who score relatively low and relatively high in relation to the distribution in total. This is the reason why 'low score/quality of life' contains more scores than 'high score/quality of life'.

Preponderance of positive and negative emotions: In the survey, we asked about the respondent's emotional state in the last week. The questions cover both positive and negative emotions. The questions are answered on a scale from 0-10 (not at all - to a very large extent).

Think about how you have been feeling for the past 7 days. To what extent were you... - happy? - worried? - down or sad? - annoyed? - engaged? - calm and relaxed? - anxious? - stressed? - grateful?

(In the 2020 and 2021 surveys, 'lonely' was included, and 'grateful' was not part of the feelings)

An average is made for the scores for the positive emotions (happy, engaged, calm and relaxed and grateful), and for the negative emotions (worried, down or sad, anxious and stressed), each of which can vary between 0 and 10. To get a total score of whether people experience a preponderance of negative or positive emotions, the average for the negative emotions is subtracted from the average for the positive emotions. You are then left with a value that can vary between -10 and 10. Negative values ​​indicate that the person has experienced a preponderance of negative emotions. Positive values ​​indicate that the person has experienced a preponderance of positive emotions.


The entire population: When we present figures for the entire population, we use all the responses in the survey. The entire population here is people aged 18 and over.

Sex: Respondent's sex taken from the population register.

Age: The respondent's age at the beginning of the year in which the survey was conducted. This variable is divided into the following age groups: 18-24 years, 25-44 years, 45-66 years, 67-79 years, 80 years and over.

Education level: Based on information on highest completed education from the National Education Database, education level is grouped as follows:

  • Basic school level
  • Upper secondary level (incl. also extension to upper secondary school)
  • Higher education, short
  • Higher education, long (includes research education)
  • No or unspecified education (includes no education or at pre-school level, and unspecified education).

The status of highest completed education applies to two years before the statistical year. This means that people who have completed their education in the year before the statistical year have not updated their education level.

Income: Income information comes from administrative register, with status from two years before the statistical year. We group the respondents by income group (quartiles). The groups are based on the household's total income after tax, and the number of people in the household (consumption unit) is taken into account.

  • First quartile: lowest 25 percent of the income distribution
  • Second quartile: second lowest 25 percent of the income distribution
  • Third quartile: second highest 25 percent of the income distribution
  • Fourth quartile: highest 25 percent of the income distribution

Economic status: Based on the person's answers to questions about their own perception of the most important activity at the time of the answer. Economic status is grouped as follows:

  • Working
  • Unemployed
  • In retirement
  • Disabled or unable to work
  • Student or pupil (including compulsory military service)
  • Other (incl. Fulfilling domestic tasks and care responsibilities)

Cohabitating arrangements: Based on the respondent's answers to questions about who you live with and whether you have a boyfriend or not. Cohabitation is divided into the following groups:

  • Single, not living with children, in total
    • Not in a relationship
    • In a relationship, not cohabiting
  • Single parent, total
    • Single parent, not in a relationship
    • Single parent, in a relationship
  • Cohabiting/married, not living with children
  • Cohabiting/married, living with children

Tables with cohabitating arrangements are published from year 2022.

Country background: Based on information on immigration category from the population register. Only people who have immigrated themselves are included. Norwegian-born with immigrant parents are not included in the group with an immigrant background. Immigrants are further grouped by country of birth, with the following division:

  • Immigrants, total
  • Immigrants from EU28/EEA, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • Immigrants from Asia, Africa, Latin-America, Oceania except Australia and New Zealand and Eastern Europe outside EU28/EEA/Switzerland
  • Other population

Long-term health problems: People who state that they have health problems or illnesses that have lasted or are expected to last for at least 6 months, and where this creates limitations in carrying out everyday activities.

Symptoms of psychological distress: People who have had symptoms of psychological problems (anxiety and depression) in the last 14 days are defined based on answers on the HSCL-5 (Hopkins Symptom Check List), which includes 5 questions about the extent to which one has been troubled of the following last 14 days:

  • nervousness or inner turmoil
  • fear or anxiety
  • feeling of hopelessness regarding the future
  • depression or melancholy
  • very worried or restless

Answers are given on the scale 'Not bothered' (1), 'Slightly bothered' (2), 'Fairly bothered' (3) and 'Very much bothered' (4). An average score is made of the scores on the five questions. A score of more than 2.0 is defined as the threshold for symptoms of psychological distress (anxiety and depression-like problems).

Sexual orientation: Based on people's self-report of their sexual orientation, divided into three groups: heterosexual, non-heterosexual and don't know/don't want to answer. Non-heterosexuals are people who did not choose heterosexual, but either gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, asexual, fluid or other sexual orientation, when asked which category describes you.

Because the response categories were somewhat changed in the 2022 survey, distributions by sexual orientation are published from this year.

County: Standard county division

Centrality: An index which distributes municipalities based on proximity to workplaces and service functions, without the use of urban areas in the classification. The distribution of centrality follows the standard for centrality, which categorises all municipalities from 1 (most central) to 6 (least central). A complete list of which municipalities belong to which centrality category can be found in the list of 'standard classifications' used in this survey.


Quality of life

Not yet determined

Division for income and living conditions statistics

National, county and level of centrality

The national survey of Quality of life is carried out annually.

Not relevant

Data files with results from the interviews and statistical files with coded variables, linked information and weights are stored. Anonymized files are also available for researchers through the NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data.

The purpose of the national survey on Quality of Life is to measure the quality of life in the population and to follow the development over time, as well as to shed light on differences in quality of life between different groups.

The quality of life survey was conducted for the first time by Statistics Norway in 2020. The results were published as reports in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, Quality of Life was created as a separate statistic, with the results published as tables in the StatBank.

The most important users are ministries, directorates and research environments in the areas of quality of life, health and living conditions.

In addition to this, the statistics serve as a basis for information to the media and the general public.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08:00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Information from the population register, education registers, income registers, social security and benefits from NAV and information about work, occupation and salary from “A-ordningen” are linked to the Quality of Life Survey.

Voluntary survey

Not relevant

The population is residents aged 18 and over who do not live in an institution.

The statistics are based on the Quality of Life Survey of Statistics Norway. The data sources are interview information (web form) from the annual representative sample surveys and various connected register information. The gross sample for the Quality of Life Survey consists of 40,000 people. The sample is drawn according to procedures for random selection.

Data collection takes place with a web-based interview. People who have been selected to participate in the survey receive a web link/login information to the questionnaire, which they fill in themselves. Data collection normally takes place in March.

The unit of analysis is persons.

Some background information from registers to which Statistics Norway has access is used to create groupings according to which the statistics are distributed. This applies to information about sex (registered), age, level of education, income, country of origin and place of residence.

In order to compensate for biases in the sample, a weight is calculated that takes into account gender, age, education, immigration background and income. The weight is calibrated against the entire population. The results that are published should therefore be representative of the entire population.

Not relevant

Statistics Norway has guidelines for linking different data sources for statistical purposes. The guidelines are based on Statistics Norway's framework license for personal registers granted by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, as well as the Statistics Act. According to these guidelines, the answers given in surveys can only be used to create statistics, i.e. one can only provide information for groups, not for individuals.

The quality of life statistics mainly have figures from the year 2020. Due to changes to certain questions, some distributions have time series that start later. See information on individual variables/groups under Definitions.

The sample for the Quality of Life Survey is drawn to be representative of the Norwegian population aged 18 and over and consists of approximately 40,000 people each year.

Not all people who are in the sample participate in the survey. Those who do not participate represent a dropout from the selection. If the dropout rate is not the same in all groups, it will create a skewed sample that is no longer fully representative of the population being investigated. How skewed a sample is will vary with which variable you are looking at.

To correct for the fact that the dropout may create a skewed selection, the figures in the tables are weighted. The reference for the weighting is the entire population. The following characteristics are included in the weighting: Gender, age, education, income, family size, immigration background.

For more information on bias due to dropouts and weighting, see documentation note.

Not relevant