PB441      Half Unit
Wellbeing for Policy

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christian Krekel


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is available on the 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.

This course (or its dissertation equivalent) is compulsory on the Wellbeing Specialism of the MSc in Behavioural Science.

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 theories and frameworks; 2) empirical evidence on the causes and consequences of wellbeing; 3) the importance of measurement and survey design; 4) data and methods for wellbeing policy analysis; 5) wellbeing policy analysis versus policy analysis using preferences; 6) wellbeing policy appraisal and evaluation; 7) wellbeing interventions; 8) embedding wellbeing into policy; 9) paternalism; 10) wellbeing as the goal?


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

Formative coursework

Students will participate in a mock presentation of the presentation (pitch) that will 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: 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. These 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 presentation (pitch) 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, to be submitted in ST (individual evaluation, by lecturer, 30% of grade).

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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