Wellbeing for Policy - Dissertation

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christian Krekel


This course is available on the MSc in Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course, or its standard assessment equivalent (PB441), is compulsory for students on the wellbeing stream of MSc 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.

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.


Dissertation (100%, 10000 words) post-summer term.

You are required to write a 10,000 word dissertation (replacing the essay and presentation). You are expected to attend the course teaching on the half-unit that you chose to write your dissertation on.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: One 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