Projects per year
The assumption that development brings not only material prosperity but also a better overall quality of life lies at the heart of the development project. Against this, critics assert that development can undermine social cohesion and threaten cultural integrity. Rarely, however, is the impact of development on well-being rigourously analysed using empirical data. This is what the Wellbeing in Developing Countries Group at the University of Bath aims to do drawing on fieldwork carried out in four developing countries, which addresses the themes of resources, needs, agency and structure, and subjective Quality of life (QoL). The first phase of the QoL research in Thailand aimed to explore the categories and components of quality of life for people from different backgrounds and locations with the aim of developing methods for QoL assessment in the third phase of the WeD QoL research. The study presents data obtained from rural and peri-urban sites in Southern and Northeastern Thailand (two villages in Songkhla and three in Khon Kaen, Mukdaharn, and Roi-et). Participants were divided into six groups by gender and age, and were divided again by religion (Buddhist and Muslim) and wealth status in the South. Data collection was conducted between October and December 2004 using focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, and the Person Generated Index. Content analysis was used for data analysis. The use of a qualitative approach enabled the gathering of empirical data that reflects the sources of difficulty and happiness in the lives of participants. Respondents identified 26 aspects to their quality of life, including family relations, health and longevity, income and having money, jobs, housing, education, debt, and so on. The results reveal clear similarities and differences in the role of traditions, religious beliefs, and values in the lives of people living in remote rural or peri-urban areas in Northeastern and Southern Thailand. These results, together with the findings from Peru, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh, will inform the rest of the WeD research and be used to develop measures to assess the quality of life of people living in developing countries.