Not available in 2021/22
PB441      Half Unit
Wellbeing for Policy

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christian Krekel


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Economics and Climate Change) (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Psychology of Economic Life, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course aims to introduce students to the main concepts and tools of wellbeing for policy-making, with a focus on applicability in policies across all sectors (government, business, and NGOs). To achieve this aim, the course is based on ten lectures covering: 1) wellbeing frameworks; 2) empirical evidence on causes and consequences of wellbeing; 3) measurement and survey design; 4) data and methods; 5) policy analysis using preferences versus policy analysis using wellbeing; 6) wellbeing policy evaluation and appraisal; 7) interventions; 8) embedding wellbeing into policy; 9) paternalism; 10) wellbeing as the ultimate goal.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will participate in a mock presentation of the pitch presentation that is going to be part of the summative assignment, to be held in LT.

Indicative reading


  • Adler, M. A., & Fleurbaey, M. (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Clark, A. E., Flèche, S., Layard, R., Powdthavee, N., & Ward, G. (2018). The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Well-Being over the Life Course. Princeton, MA: Princeton University Press.
  • Frijters, P., & Krekel, C. (2021). A Handbook for Wellbeing Policy-Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Layard, R. (2020). Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics. London: Penguin.

Journal articles

  • Benjamin, D. J., Heffetz, O., Kimball, M. S., & Rees-Jones, A. (2014). What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose? American Economic Review, 102(5), 2083-2110.
  • Clark, A. E., Diener, E., Georgellis, Y., & Lucas, R. E. (2008). Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis. Economic Journal, 118(529), F222-F243.
  • Clark, A. E., Frijters, P., & Shields, M. A. (2008). Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(1), 95-144.
  • De Neve, J.-E., & Oswald, A. J. (2012). Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(49), 19953-19958.
  • Dolan, P., & Kahneman, D. (2008). Interpretations Of Utility And Their Implications For The Valuation Of Health. Economic Journal, 118(525), 215-234.
  • Dolan, P., Kavetsos, G., Krekel, C., Mavridis, D., Metcalfe, R., Senik, C., Szymanski, S., & Ziebarth, N. R. (2019). Quantifying the intangible impact of the Olympics using subjective well-being data. Journal of Public Economics, 177, 104043.
  • Dolan, P., & Metcalfe, R. (2012). Measuring Subjective Wellbeing: Recommendations on Measures for use by National Governments. Journal of Social Policy, 41(2), 409-427.
  • Kahneman, D., Wakker, P. P., & Sarin, R. (1997). Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(2), 375-406.
  • Lindqvist, E., Östling, R., & Cesarini, D. (2020). Long-Run Effects of Lottery Wealth on Psychological Well-Being. Review of Economic Studies, 87(6), 2703-2726.
  • Odermatt, R., & Stutzer, A. (2019). (Mis-)Predicted Subjective Well-Being Following Life Events. Journal of the European Economic Association, 17(1), 245-283.
  • Oswald, A. J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2015). Happiness and Productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(4), 789-822.
  • Oswald, A. J., & Wu, S. (2010). Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-Being: Evidence from the U.S.A. Science, 327(5965), 576-579.
  • We encourage students to read Volume 4, Special Issue 2, “On Happiness Being the Goal of Government” in Behavioural Public Policy, July 2020.


Presentation (70%) in the LT.
Essay (30%, 1000 words) in the ST.

The assessment will be a field simulation. At the start of LT, students will be allocated randomly to fictitious wellbeing policy consulting companies, and within these companies, randomly to different roles. The fictitious companies will then be given a real policy issue from a UK Government department or agency which we are cooperating with, to work on together as a team during LT. The assessment itself consists of two elements:

  1. Summative Assignment 1: a pitch presentation on the given policy issue at the client (i.e. the UK Government department or agency that participates in the respective academic year), to be held in LT (joint evaluation of students, by lecturer with input from client, 70% of grade)
  2. Summative Assignment 2: an individual essay of 1,000 words reflecting on the pitch presentation, to be submitted in ST (individual evaluation, by lecturer, 30% of grade)

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills