Alex Bryson, John Forth, Lucy Stokes, 17 November 2014

It is generally agreed that firms can improve their employees’ wellbeing through improvements in job quality – but is it in their economic interests to do so? This column reports research showing that satisfied employees and higher productivity go together. Analysis of the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey finds that employee job satisfaction is positively associated with workplace financial performance, labour productivity, and the quality of output and service.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Michael Norton, 08 October 2014

How do macroeconomic changes affect people’s wellbeing?  This column presents evidence that the life satisfaction of individuals is between two and eight times more sensitive to negative economic growth than it is to positive economic growth. Engineering economic ‘booms’ that risk even short ‘busts’ is unlikely to improve social wellbeing in the long run.

Timothy Bond, Kevin Lang, 04 July 2014

Self-reported measures of happiness are growing in popularity as alternatives to GDP. This column presents a novel statistical critique of the validity of comparing such measures across groups. Since monotonic transformations of individuals’ happiness levels can reverse average happiness rankings between countries, no meaningful comparison can be made without assumptions on the distribution of happiness.

Nicholas Oulton, 22 December 2012

The idea of having GDP growth as the main target of economic policy has been under attack in recent years. This column addresses some of the criticisms and argues that continued GDP growth would be good for the UK and other European countries – and not just in the short term to reduce high levels of unemployment.

John Feddersen, Robert Metcalfe, Mark Wooden, 02 November 2012

Hurricane Sandy destroyed an massive amount of US wealth, but the impact on human wellbeing surely goes far beyond any dollar figure. This column argues that the ‘subjective wellbeing’ literature can inform policy choices in the area of emergency response. Since the ‘happiness’ cost of short-term weather changes far exceeds that of long-term changes, prevention policies are likely to yield a higher payoff in terms of life satisfaction than rebuilding policies with equivalent financial payoffs.

Clemens Hetschko, Andreas Knabe, Ronnie Schöb, 04 May 2012

Most people’s wellbeing is permanently affected by unemployment. This column argues that the unhappiness is due to a loss of identity, rather than daily experiences. Using German data, it shows that the long-term unemployed become happier upon entering retirement, thus changing social category, even though this does not change their daily lives.

Kees Koedijk, Meir Statman, Rachel Campbell, 30 March 2012

Does more money always make you happy? This column argues that financial wellbeing is distinct from income. People with low income can enjoy financial wellbeing as high as people with high incomes as long as their aspirations do not exceed their incomes.

Alex Bryson, 21 October 2011

A growing body of evidence indicates that certain modern management practices increase firm profitability. What remains largely unknown is their effect on workers’ wellbeing. This column uses data from Finland and suggests high-involvement management – that is, engaging workers more fully in their jobs – is associated with higher job satisfaction, non-tiredness, and a lower probability of accident.

Carol Graham, 31 July 2011

The UK government is the latest to consider incorporating measures of happiness in its policymaking. This column takes stock of what we know from investigations into people’s wellbeing. It concludes that there is still much to resolve before a measure of gross national happiness is possible – or indeed desirable.

John Helliwell, Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Anthony Harris, Haifang Huang, 24 April 2010

What accounts for life satisfaction differences across countries? This column presents new findings from the Gallup World Poll of more than 140,000 respondents worldwide. It suggests the happiest nations are those with strong social support from family and friends, freedom in making life choices, and low levels of corruption.

Lawrence Katz, 17 July 2009

If people in disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods have the opportunity to move house, what is the impact on their wellbeing and their educational and labour market outcomes? Lawrence Katz of Harvard University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the ‘Moving to Opportunity’ project, which is tracking 5,000 low-income families with children who were offered the chance to relocate in the mid-1990s. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.

Kevin Milligan, Mark Stabile, 15 May 2009

Since the 1990s, many countries have reformed their systems of transfers to low income families with an eye toward improving work incentives. This column shows, using Canadian data, that well-designed income transfers can not only help families make their way back to employment, but also improve the educational, mental health, and behavioural outcomes of the next generation.

Armin Falk, 06 February 2009

Armin Falk, director of the Bonn Laboratory of Experimental Economics talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his experimental research on how people compare themselves with others and its impact on their health and wellbeing. The interview was recorded at a workshop on happiness research at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in October 2008.

Daniel Kahneman, 21 November 2008

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about wellbeing as an indicator of social progress, arguing that we need at least two measures of happiness – one that comes when you ask people how they feel right now (‘experience happiness’) and one that comes when you ask people how they think about their life (‘life evaluation’). The interview was recorded at a workshop on happiness research at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in October 2008.

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