We integrate the multi-disciplinary fields of quality of life (QoL) and well-being (WB) and appraise the impacts of health factors. Theoretical and methodological limitations are discussed and new conceptual and technical advances identified, These are informed by cross-cultural and community perspectives. Following a definitional review, social inequalities, and links with happiness are examined. Demographic, experiential and personal factors are outlined. Implications for poverty research are addressed. As the concept of SWB recently converged with the longstanding international QoL definition (WHOQOL Group, 1995), we discuss the separate need for SWB. Future collaborative conceptual and pragmatic research is recommended. Copyright © 2008 SAGE Publications.