Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Comparative Assessment of Environmental Indicators of Quality of Life in Romania and Lithuania

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Comparative Assessment of Environmental Indicators of Quality of Life in Romania and Lithuania

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. The paper presents a comparative study to assess quality of life in terms of environment in Lithuania and Romania. It introduces a system of indicators for assessing environmental issues of quality of life in these two countries. The environmental dimension is one of the major issues affecting quality of life as the environment, first and foremost, provides for healthy living conditions. The environmental indicators being assessed can be organized into 3 major groups of environmental indicators: environmental quality, environmentally responsible behaviour, and consumption of environmental services. These groups of indicators are closely interrelated as environmentally responsible behaviour has positive impact on environmental quality, and improved environmental quality provides for higher consumption of services provided by the environment. The dynamics of these integrated environmental indicators relevant to quality of life were investigated and compared in Lithuania and Romania, and policy recommendations were developed.

JEL Classification: I31, I38, O47

Keywords: integrated indicators, quality of life, environmental quality, environmentally responsible behaviour, consumption of environmental services.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Environmental quality is a key dimension of people's well-being, as quality of life is strongly affected by a healthy environment (Holman & Coan, 2008; Kahn, 2002) and has a direct impact on human health. Besides affecting people's health, the environment also matters intrinsically as many people attach importance to the beauty and the healthiness of the place where they live (Balestra& Dottori, 2011; Kahn, & Matsusaka, 1997). People also directly benefit from environmental assets and services, such as water, clean air, lands, forests, and access to green spaces, as these assets allow them to satisfy basic needs and to enjoy free time and the company of others (Pretty, Peacock, Sellens, & Griffin, 2005; Balestra, & Sultan, 2011).

The environmental indicators reflecting the quality of life can be grouped based on their relationships with quality of life: indicators of environmental quality, indicators for assessing environmentally responsible behaviour, and indicators of consumption of environmental services. These groups of indicators are tightly interrelated as environmentally responsible behaviour has positive impact on environmental quality, and improved environmental quality provides for higher consumption of services provided by the environment.

The aim of this paper is to develop a system of integrated environmental indicators that can be applied for comparative assessment of quality of life in Lithuania and Romania.

The paper has four main objectives:

* To select indicators for assessing environmental quality, environmentally responsible behaviour, and consumption of environmental services based on the EUROSTAT database;

* To develop integrated environmental indicators of quality of life;

* To analyse and compare integrated environmental indicator trends in Lithuania and Romania during the 2004-2011 period;

* To develop policy recommendations based on the analysis provided.

Environmental indicators related to quality of life

The quality of local living environment has a direct impact on human health and well- being, and economies rely not only on healthy and productive workers but also on natural resources such as water, timber, fisheries, plants and crops (Zheng, 2010; Reto & Garcia- Vega, 2012). Consumption of environmental services and amenities also has a direct impact on quality of life. Conversely, the quality of the environment and environmental services and amenities are affected by human behaviour (Osbaldiston & Sheldon, 2003; Thogersen, 2006).

Indeed, "environmental indicators related to quality of life" is a broad concept, and a system of indicators should be developed that inform about the quality of environmental media (e. …

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