I. The quality of life concept of IPOLIS

Quality of life (QoL) is considered to be a multi-dimensional concept comprising objective measures (including material and non-material aspects such as income, material deprivation, quality of housing, education, health, etc.) and people’s perceptions of these factors ((e.g. subjective income position, self-reported health status). The concept of QoL and thus IPOLIS system does not include measures of subjective well-being like self-reported happiness, overall life satisfaction, etc. As shown in the figure, IPOLIS builds on the quality of life concept, which includes the concept of poverty and living conditions, but does not fully cover what we understand as well-being.

See more in the concept paper
Figure 1
Note: In the rectangles we indicated what outcomes/indicators to be added to shift from the given circle to the next one.
Figure 2

II. Coherence across modules in IPOLIS

IPOLIS ensure a coherence across modules of the indicator system by providing are direct linkages between modules through common indicators at the level of domains, components and sub-components (Figure 2). These indicators allow for a comparative assessment of the relative position of vulnerable groups – primarily according to the dimensions of poverty and material living conditions.

A set of indicators, referred here to as cross-module indicators, characterizes all three groups. These measures should have the same definition and preferably should be produced on the same data source. Household level indicators, like household income and material living conditions, meet these criteria. On the contrary, perceived general health or physical activity could also be relevant indicators for all three age groups, but there is no single data source to produce them. In addition, some of the potential indicators can be relevant for not only one, but two vulnerable groups. For example, this is the case with risk behaviour indicators, which are relevant for both children and youth, or with employment rate which is an important indicator for both youth and older people.

See more in the concept paper

The multidimensional nature of IPOLIS is represented by six domains of QoL: material living conditions, labour market attachment and work-life balance, education and training, health and risk behaviours, social connectedness and participation, physical environment and safety. These six domains are completed by policy and context indicators.

III. Table structure of the IPOLIS

ID Type Quality of Life Domains Components

IV. Indicator selection criteria

General criteria

The main starting point for selecting indicators in IPOLIS is provided by the Social OMC framework.

According to it, the Social OMC monitoring framework as a whole

  • should be comprehensive and as much as possible cover all key dimensions in the common principles;
  • should be balanced as much as possible across the different dimensions;
  • should enable a synthetic and transparent assessment of a country's situation.
Further, an individual indicator should:
  • capture the essence of the problem and have a clear and accepted normative interpretation;
  • be robust and statistically validated;
  • provide a sufficient level of cross-country comparability, as far as practicable with the use of internationally applied definitions and data-collection standards;
  • be built on available underlying data, and be timely and susceptible to revision; and
  • be responsive to policy interventions, but not subject to manipulation.

Other criteria

IPOLIS includes outcome indicators of quality of life, completed by policy and context indicators.

IPOLIS reflect on inequalities in outcomes. Breakdowns by variables like sex, age, attained level of education, household composition, income status, labour market attachment provide an important input for policy making.

IPOLIS include objective measures as well as subjective indicators of objective circumstances. However, subjective indicators, like perceptions towards inequalities, poverty and redistribution are considered among policy and context indicators.

See more in the concept paper

V. Data infrastructure

Most of the data (either survey, registers or other administrative data) that serves as sources for IPOLIS indicators, are part of the European Statistical System (ESS), however, their status varies largely in terms of the starting year and periodicity. In addition, IPOLIS involves surveys that are not part of the ESS.

See more in

An overview of data sources for IPOLIS

Group coverage

Data source

ESS status

Age coverage

Time period, periodicity

Country coverage

Domains covered

Households (overall population)


Statistics on Income and Living Conditions


Total population living in private households

2003-, yearly

EU-28, Iceland, Norway

Income, poverty, social exclusion and living conditions

Adult population


Labour Force Survey


15 and over in private households

1983-, yearly

EU-27 (Croatia from 2012), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland

Labour market

Adult population


European Quality of Life Survey


16 and over in private households

2003-, every four years

EU-28, Norway

Employment, income, education, housing, family, health, work-life balance, life satisfaction and perceived quality of society

Adult population


European Social Survey


15 and over in private households

2001-, biannually

Varies, EU-28 excepting Croatia, Latvia, Romania in 2012

Attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns

Adult population


European Health Interview Survey


15 and over in private households

First wave: 2006-2009, second in 2014

First wave: EU-17

Height and weight, self-perceived health, reduced activities due to health problems, long-standing illness, smoking behaviour, alcohol consumption

Adult population


Adult Education Survey



2007-, every four year

First wave: 2007 (2005-2008)

Second wave: 2011 (2011-2012)

29 countries (incl. Croatia, Norway, Switzerland)

Participation in education and training activities (formal, non-formal and informal learning)

Adult population

PIAAC Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies



First wave: 2013

24 countries in total, out of which 17 EU members, plus Norway (Flandres represents Netherlands, while England and


Adult population

HETUS Harmonised European Time Use Surveys



EU-wide data collection in 2000 (Spring)

Harmonisation guidelines also available for 2004 and 2009

15 European countries (14 EU MSs + Norway) in HETUS


Adult population

ICT Survey


16-74 (12-15 optional)

Yearly, first wave: 2008

EU Member States

Interaction with public administration, skills and digital literacy, e-business, e-commerce, security

Adult population



18 and over

(Standard EB) 1973-, twice a year

EU member states

Various modules themes, opinion polls

Adult population

Gender and Generation Survey



2000-, every 4-5 years (3+ waves)

19 countries in total, out of which 14 are EU-28 MSs, plus Norway

Fertility, partnership, the transition to adulthood, economic activity, care duties and attitudes



European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs


Children aged 15-16

1995-, every four years

39 countries in total in 2011, out of which 24 are EU-28 members, plus Iceland and Norway. Belgium was represented by Flanders, while Germany by 5 Bundesl..

Substance use



Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children


Children aged 11, 13, 15

1983-, every four years

43 countries and regions in total, with all EU-28 included except Cyprus. Belgium and the UK are represented by regions (French and Flemish part of Belgium, and England, Scotland and Wales, respectively). Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are also included.

Health and risk behaviours, family and  peer relations, life satisfaction



International Civic and Citizenship Education Study


Children at their eighth grade (not younger than 13.5 years)


22 out of EU-28, plus Norway and Switzerland. Belgium is represented by Flanders, while UK by England

Conceptual understandings and competencies in civic and citizenship education.



OECD Programme for International Student Assessment


Children aged 15

2000-, every three years

OECD countries, including all EU-28 but Cyprus.

Competencies in reading, mathematics and science



Trends in International Mathematics and Science




Children at their fourth and eighth grades

1995-, every four years

63 countries and regions, out of which 21 are EU-28 member states in 2011. Belgium is represented by Flanders, while UK by England and Northern Ireland. Norway is also included.

Competencies in mathematics and science



Progress in International

Reading Literacy Study


Children at their fourth grade

2001-, every fifth years

48 countries and regions, out of which 23 are EU-28 member states in 2011. Belgium is represented by Wallonia, while UK by England and Northern Ireland. Norway is also included.

Competencies in reading



Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement


50 and over

2004-, five waves so far

19 European countries, including Switzerland.

Health, socio-economics and social networks


[1] For an extensive overview and evaluation of international surveys of children see Richardson (2012).