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the assigning of weights. Further difficulties include confusion between the condition or demand (e.g., morbidity) and the remedy or supply (e.g., availability of doctors and health facilities). Finally, many of these are difficult to interpret: is the incidence of divorces a reflection of the failure of marriages or of the ability of people to remedy failed marriages? For all these difficulties, however, it is in these areas that conventional social science is most promising for measuring conditions and prescribing actions.
Consumer preferences and preferred life-styles.--A variety of recent studies has become available as to what people say they want. The Harris and Gallup Polls and the Potomac Institute have arrived at remarkably similar findings to the effect that a majority of people say they would like to live in small towns. Other studies, principally those of Lansing and Associates, report on surveys as to preferences in neighborhood and housing. Many of these studies have received wide publicity, but their interpretation requires great caution. They report what people say they want, not what they really want or how they would like it if they got their wish. In an interview situation responses to vague hypothetical questions are likely to be rhetorical or symbolic rather than a true expression of an operational choice. Nonetheless, a great deal more work in this area is needed with considerably greater sophistication. Interesting new departures are embodied in the work of Hansen, who presents alternative scenarios of earnings associated with concrete migratory choices, and in some of the gaming experiments that lead participants to explore the consequences of their choices. Asking people what they want makes excellent sense, but it is important for the formulation of policy to make the question a fair one so that the answer may be intelligently listened to. This area too is one in which traditional social science may contribute greatly. It differs from the previous element in that it deals with questions of kind rather than with questions of quantity.
Sense of self and community.--This vast issue has been the subject of much political thought, both left and right, and has been addressed as well by many other non-political observers. It basically has to do with how individuals feel about themselves and about their ability to play a meaningful role in their society. Although it takes
many forms, a common diagnosis views the individual as alienated in modern urban society, with diminished primary contacts so that he finds no rewarding human associations. Most of the analysis attributes this to the bigness of society (and therefore links it to large-scale urbanization) and proposes the development of communities. The precise form of these communities varies a great deal, and the word "community" is one of the most abused ones in the language today. Nonetheless, emphasis is often put in residentiary communities (neighborhoods), ethnic and racial communities, and some other forms of affiliation. At the programmatic level we find manifestations of this concern in the local self-determination implicit in the New Federalism, in the development of communes, in the consumerist movement with its communities of consumers, and in dozens of other ways. Many of the issues raised are fundamental and most practical.
It should be noted that the conventional assumption that equates small-town and rural life with a sense of community and urban life with alienation is under severe challenge from a number of empirical studies, and that it would be a grave error to base policy aimed at the objective of improving the quality of life on such an oversimplification.
Ethnic and cultural identity .--This element in the quality of life has until recently been assumed to be of diminishing importance because of the melting-pot effect. Nonetheless, it has in recent years become a central issue in the position of certain minorities, such as the black, the chicano, the Puerto Rican, the Chinese, and the Indian. Many of these reject the idea that they should adopt the life-styles of the white majority and insist on a separate identity. This phenomenon is poorly understood, but of great inportance not only in this country but in other developed countries, Europe finds that among its 14. 11portant regional and urban development issues are those of the cultural nations (Basque, Catalonian, keish, Scot, Breton, Flemish, mal17, ara so forth), as does Canada, and the role of these considerations bas been of mounting importance in recent years, States there is a less clear reg:011 miinia. *549,- ***vi*, **** cultural-ethnic groups, so that *?* 19% 4* are "** 44:140 ** «*?11. rather than territorial us, they do Esre a srx Arti*** *****
in cases such as the concentration of certain minorities in metropolitan central cities and the Indian lands; further, within the white population there are important manifestations in some of the Southern states which may be expected to gain in importance and visibility as continued urbanization and development comes in conflict with the region's traditional cultural values.
Both academic economics and our system of laws are products of eighteenth-century rationalism and place all their stress on the individual rather than on such social groups. Therefore they have had particular difficulty in dealing with these issues. Nonetheless it may be expected that matters of ethnic and cultural identity will remain central for national growth policy, affecting very concretely the formulation, demand, and acceptability of alternative courses of
Socio-psychological costs of transition.--In a changing society people often find their ways of life changing and are distressed by this quite aside from whether they benefit or suffer materially from the change. Such changes include the sense of threat felt by the white workingclass from the numerical and economic growth of a black population, the sense of abandonment of the remaining oldsters in regions of declining population, the challenge to established elites by new ones in regions of economic transformation, the disorientation of new arrivals in dynamic situations, and many others. Some of these sociopsychological costs are subtle, and some may not elicit much sympathy from others, but many can and should be the object of policy through programs to aid individuals and communities. Although often the problems are local ones in the concrete instance, they are national problems in that they repeat continuously and will continue to do so in an evolving society. Much as there are short-run compensatory equity problems as distinct from the long-run structural ones in the material sense, these constitute short-run problems in the quality of life, but ones that are fully deserving of attention.
Two general observations must be offered in concluding the discussion of the quality of life objective. The first is that in a modern society the life choices of individuals affect one another. Obviously we cannot all simultaneously enjoy Yosemite in solitude, nor
choose the same locations and keep their population down. Yet such contradictions are implied, for instance, in the many current local no-growth movements, for decisions as to growth at the local and regional level are really distributive decisions from the point of view of the larger region or the nation, since the totals are not in question. The issue of local growth, so often tied to considerations of the quality of life, are ultimately distributive questions, both in territorial and in economic terms. In prosperous areas, they often take the form of those already in barring the door against those outside. In declining areas, the search for growth carries more complex consequences because of the counterpoint of economic and demographic cross-flows. The general point, however, is that it is the responsibility of the national government to carry the books that will tell whether the sum total of individual choices is feasible and whether the
choices of some are at the expense of others.
The other general observation is similar, but deals with a phenomenon so pervasive and important that it deserves highlighting. This is that much of what passes for concern for the quality of life is actually class self-interest or prejudice. This takes many forms. For instance, for centuries the upper and intellectual classes have toyed with a pastoral ideal, and many of the current proposals for de concentration and new towns have this basis, whatever the merits of the issue. Similarly, many of the current proposals for aid to distressed areas
and the creation of new settlements are rather naive attempts to keep
the rural blacks and certain poor whites back, as are many of the nogrowth movements. The Family Assistance Plan, which embodied the possibility of profound regional consequences, was in large measure defeated in Congress because, by rais the costs of labor and increasing its range of choices, it threatened the submissiveness and availability of menial labor to the middle and upper classes in the South. This points to a matter so obvious that it is often neglected: that the quality of life of the affluent is to a large degree based on the poverty of others, and that much of what we regard as the good life depends on a high ratio of incomes between the haves and the have-nots. The basic problem of the quality of life in this country has to do with our capacity to design modes of living which are compatible with
Environmental Integrity This national purpose, to a large extent neglected until recently, has exploded into the public consciousness so forcefully that it has often slipped over into excess. No overall theory appears available to deal with it, although important beginnings are being made in certain areas of economics and the natural sciences.
It appears that the environment becomes an issue for public intervention because of the failure of market mechanisms. That is to say, the mechanisms of price among willing buyers and willing sellers result, often if not always, in conditions which are viewed as socially undesirable. Since the market misallocates and misshapes, recourse is being had to public action.
The bases for failure of the market in the environmental area appear to be fourfold. First, the costs and benefits of decisions are not borne fully by those making them. These conditions are called "externalities," and traditional remedies are either to regulate behavior directly or to devise new market institutions that will internalize the externalities (i.e., so the costs and benefits accrue to those taking the actions) by such devices as taxes, redefinitions of liability, allowing diffuse affected groups standing in court through class action suits, and by other means. Secondly, it appears that the interest of the society as a whole would place a different and greater value on the future than do individuals or corporations. Hence, the social rate of discount by which the present value of alternative actions is considered will differ from the private one. Private actions will be more shortsighted than the public interest would have them. Thirdly, it appears that the scale and technological power of the society is such that it often exceeds the capacity of nature to absorb and diffuse pollution or renew its resources. This is a significant departure from the approach of systems analysis, which is based on the presupposition that the action system is imbedded in an "environment" which is so large in relation to the system that there are no feedback effects. Insofar as the decisions of the market are marginal, they fail to take account of such structural limits and capacities. Hence