Policy reports

World Happiness Report

World Happiness Reports

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The report has been published since 2012 in collaboration with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and continues to gain global recognition as governments, organisations and civil society increasingly use wellbeing indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.

Global Happiness and Wellbeing Policy Report 2019

Global Happiness & Wellbeing Policy Reports

The Global Happiness and Wellbeing Policy Report is produced by the Global Happiness Council and contains papers by expert working groups on wellbeing for good governance. This report provides evidence and policy recommendations on best practices to promote wellbeing.


Financial Times

Why Economists Believe 47.2 is Our Most Miserable Age

02 October 2020

Misery has other ramifications, too. A new study, “(Un)Happiness and voting in US Presidential elections”, finds that the best predictor of voting for Donald Trump in 2016 was being unhappy or dissatisfied with your lot. That makes sense: if establishment politicians have failed to protect you from misery, it seems less crazy to roll the dice on a reality TV star, at least while he is the challenger rather than an incumbent.

Financial Times

Xi Upstages Trump With Carbon Neutral Pledge

23 September 2020

The case for sustainability seems to be growing by the day. On top of evidence that it pays off for companies and investors, a new study has found a more sustainable society may be a happier one, according to researchers from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, the study’s lead author, said there was evidence to suggest that cleaner air quality and exposure to nature improves mental health, a theme intertwined with numerous SDG pillars.

Behavioral Scientist

Building Trust to Face the COVID-19 Pandemic in Developing Countries

31 August 2020

Common measures used to contain COVID-19 in developed countries can be difficult — if not impossible — to replicate in developing countries. How can individuals practice handwashing without reliable access to clean water and soap, social distancing when living in multifamily households, or staying home when informal work provides vital daily income?

Ascend - Harvard Business Review

Research: Why a Covid-19 World Feels Both Tiring and Hopeful for College Students

03 August 2020

It is easy to see why students are exhausted: loved ones are getting sick, virtual classes are energy-draining, and it is hard to focus amidst worries about repaying loans and finding a job. From virtual graduation parties to postponed internships, students are contemplating career decisions — and COVID-19 is fundamentally altering what we desire from our jobs and lives.

Harvard Business Review

Don’t Work on Vacation. Seriously.

22 July 2020

Data from the 2018 American Time Use survey indicates that 30% of full-time employees report working weekends and holidays, and even when people officially have time off, that doesn’t mean they stop working. Moreover, the recent global shift to remote work due to the Covid-19 crisis could further exacerbate the situation: as the formal boundaries that separate work from non-work become even more blurred, employees may feel conflicted about what time is — and isn’t — meant for working.


Why a Four Day Working Week Could Save Us And the Planet

31 May 2020

Alongside the green benefits of a four day working week, working less could also positively affect mental health. “There’s some wellbeing gains there too in addition to ecological benefits from these work from home practices and potentially a four day work week,” says Dr De Neve. “When you look at what makes people happy with their job or satisfied with life more generally, research has shown that work-life balance plays an important role.”

Der Spiegel

Das Glück Neu Erfahren

20 May 2020

Born in Belgium, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (41) is an economist and teaches at the University of Oxford. As head of the “Wellbeing Research Center” there, he has been researching happiness and well-being for years. He has been co-editor of the “World Happiness Report” since 2020. What is happiness anyway - and can we still be happy in times of crisis? De Neve answers this in an interview.


Europe Inches Its Way Out of Lockdown

16 April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in self-reported happiness in the U.K., but the decline leveled off once the government put forward a clear plan. De Neve's data suggests that life satisfaction has declined across the board from before the pandemic, but more so for those under 35 than people over 60.

Project Syndicate

When will the pandemic cure be worse than the disease?

6 April 2020

COVID-19 will be with us for some time. Are months of government-enforced lockdowns the right policy? We don’t know, and as moral philosophers, we can’t answer this question on our own. Empirical researchers need to take on the challenge of calculating the effects, not in terms of wealth or health, but in the ultimate currency, wellbeing.

The Economist

How will humans, by nature social animals, fare when isolated?

4 April 2020

Among the population at large, some may be especially worried. Those who have lost their jobs, who now number in the millions, may have lost not just their income, but also their identity, routine and much of their social network, says Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, head of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.

Harvard Business Review

3 tips to avoid WFH burnout

3 April 2020

Millions around the globe have made a sudden transition to remote work amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, this has some employers concerned about maintaining employee productivity. But what they really should be concerned about in this unprecedented situation is a longer-term risk: employee burnout.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

Wie steht’s ums Glück?

25 March 2020

Glücksforscher Jan-Emmanuel De Neve erklärt das Zusammenspiel von Geld, Gesundheit und Zufriedenheit. Kleiner Trost: Sogar in der Krise gibt es Glücksmomente.


Research finds age 50 is the worst time to be unemployed

25 March 2020

Unemployment poses many psychological hardships. It causes people to lose their sense of purpose. For some, it can serve as a precursor to depression. At what age are the psychological effects of unemployment most damaging? New research forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science finds the answer to be around age 50.

The Conversation

Coronavirus lays bare the trauma of losing your job

24 March 2020

Understanding the health risks of COVID-19 and containing its spread has been at the centre of global focus over the past few months. But attention has now also turned to the economic impact. And, in particular, how it will affect work and the workplace.

BBC Sounds

Business matters: UK pubs and restaurants told to close

21 March 2020

UK pubs and restaurants told to close in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Ironically, it might seem, today is World Happiness Day, the brain child the United Nations New World Order project. It's aim to advance happiness as a fundamental human right for all human beings; we speak to Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford.

Huffington Post

What the world's happiest country can teach us about surviving the coronavirus crisis

20 March 2020

The timing of the annual World Happiness Report may seem unfortunate ― it launched today, as the world grapples with how to react to the coronavirus pandemic without social and economic meltdown. But the report authors point to vital lessons that countries with high levels of well-being can teach us about how to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The Times

Gardening and exercise ‘are the secrets to happiness’

20 March 2020

Drugs might provide a temporary fix, gurus might fool the gullible and there are still some foolish enough to think that money will solve all their problems. However, anyone who has ever put the cares of the world behind them by digging potatoes will know that happiness is working the allotment.

New Straits Times

Choosing to be happy can help during Covid-19 outbreak

19 March 2020

Research suggests that there are several reasons that people can and should choose to be happy, even when it is a difficult choice. A 2019 study conducted by Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from Saïd, George Ward from MIT and Clement Bellet of Erasmus University Rotterdam has found that happy workers are 13 percent more productive.


A Davos conversation on maximizing happiness, not GDP

25 January 2020

Up for debate was whether governments should seek to make their citizens happy, and whether they could satisfactorily measure their success in doing so. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of Oxford noted that several leaders have recently set happiness as their objective — nearly all of them women.

World Economic Forum

Happy workers are more productive, research shows

13 November 2019

How are you feeling? Your answer to this deceptively simple question will likely determine how productive you will be at work today, according to new research. A team at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School has produced evidence of what many people have long suspected – happier people do a better job.

The Economist

Whistle while you work

27 October 2019

Terrible working conditions have a long tradition. Early industry was marked by its dirty, dangerous factories (dark, satanic mills) and in the early 20th century, workers were forced into dull, repetitive tasks by the needs of the production line. However, in a service-based economy, it makes sense that focusing on worker morale might be a much more fruitful approach.

The Telegraph

Why improving workplace happiness is key to solving the decade-long productivity slump

22 October 2019

Oxford University researchers claim to have found the answer at last to the UK’s productivity woes: cheer up. That may be easier said than done on a cold morning in October, but the research by the University, in collaboration with telecoms firm BT, claims to have found a “conclusive link” between happiness and productivity. The finest minds in economics have been fretting over the UK’s decade-long slump in productivity for years.

Quartz at Work

A big new study finds compelling evidence that happy workers are more productive

22 October 2019

With more companies thinking about the impact of how they treat workers, it’s useful to know that a large study of call-center workers in the UK affirms what we all suspected: Employees are indeed more productive when they’re happier. The research, led by the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, UK, collected data from around 1,800 call-center workers employed by British Telecom (BT), one of the UK’s largest private employers, over a six-month period.

Yahoo Finance

Here is the 'conclusive' evidence happy workers are more productive

18 October 2019

Happy workers are up to 13% more productive, researchers at Oxford University have found. The study by Saïd Business School, conducted in the contact centres of British telecoms firm BT over a six-month period, is the first to conclusively link happiness to productivity. BT employees were asked to rate their happiness on a weekly basis for six months, via an email survey, while data on attendance, call-to-sale conversion and customer satisfaction were tracked, along with the worker’s scheduled hours and breaks.


Why learn to be happy?

26 August 2019

What does happiness mean to you? Friends, family, the rush of a crowd or the joy of solitude? Happiness is a fundamental human desire, yet we often struggle to achieve it. Understanding what does and does not make us happy is a growing field of scientific study. In this edition of the Why Factor, Sandra Kanthal asks if we can really teach people how to be happy.


The flawed era of GDP is finally coming to an end

3 August 2019

Bhutan started measuring its performance by Gross National Happiness a decade ago. Since then, countries around the world have copied its approach and exposed GPD's weaknesses. When Bhutan formally enacted GNH as the government's express responsibility in 2008, the timing was fortuitous. The global financial crash saw governments suddenly looking for alternatives to their current measures of progress.

The Economist

Employee happiness and business success are linked

28 July 2019

Our staff are our most important asset. Many managers have intoned this mantra over the years but plenty of employees have probably thought to themselves that, deep down, executives place a higher value on the machines on the factory floor or cash in the bank. That impression can only be reinforced when executives refer to the need to maximise “shareholder value”. The implication is that keeping equity investors happy is a company’s main priority. Employees fall into the lesser category of “stakeholders”, along with component suppliers.

Fast Company

Hate your job? Being unhappy at work might have long-term health effects

17 June 2019

Employee satisfaction has been associated with lower turnover rates, increased customer loyalty, and employee productivity, as well as better business results overall. But studies now suggest long-term health benefits for those that love what they do. Workplace satisfaction is believed to affect mental health, physical health, concentration and focus, and the ability to manage finances and personal relationships outside of work. It may even help you live longer.


Employee wellbeing, productivity, and firm performance: evidence from 1.8 million employees

21 April 2019

A growing number of companies place a high priority on the wellbeing of their workers, assuming that happier workers will lead to improved productivity. This column examines this link based on a meta-analysis of independent studies accumulated by Gallup, covering the wellbeing and productivity of nearly 2 million employees and the performance of over 80,000 business units, originating from 230 independent organisations across 49 industries in 73 countries.

New Straits Times

Future proof: shortening work-week for greater productivity

14 April 2019

According to various studies, the average worker can really focus for only three or four hours during a typical eight-hour day. The rest of the time is filled up with unproductive activities, including meetings, browsing online, visiting social media sites, chatting with colleagues or friends online and so on. Requiring them to be in the office for eight hours or more will not result in productivity gains, just tired and restless employees.

The Times

Britons find reasons to be cheerful in a glummer world

21 March 2019

Britain has bucked the global trend of falling levels of happiness and is one of the few countries where wellbeing improved over the past three years. Strong degrees of generosity towards charitable causes and an extensive system of welfare and social support were among the factors that helped Britain improve its factors in the world happiness report, which ranks 156 countries according to the happiness of their citizens. Lower levels of corruption also contributed.