WORLD DATABASE OF HAPPINESS:
Example of a focused ‘Findings Archive’
Ruut Veenhoven, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Working paper No. 169, German Data Forum RatSWD, Februari 2011
Social scientists are producing an ever growing stream of research findings, which is
ever more difficult to oversee. As a result, capitalization on earlier investment declines
and accumulation of knowledge stagnates. This situation calls for more research synthesis and interest in synthetic techniques is on the rise.
To date attention has been focused on techniques for meta-analysis, with little
attention paid to the preliminary step of bringing the available research findings
together. What we need is:
1) techniques for describing research findings in a comparable
2) a system for storing such descriptions in an easily accessible archive
3) to which
research findings can be added on a continuous basis.
The World Database of Happiness is an example of such a tool. The archive is
tailored to meet the requirements of assembling research findings on happiness; both
distributional findings (how happy people are) and correlational findings (what things go together with happiness).
With its focus on 'findings' the system differs from data-archives that store
'investigations' and from bibliographies that store 'publications'. As yet there is no
established term to describe this tool for research synthesis. I call it a 'focused findings
In this paper I describe how that works and discusses the strengths and
weaknesses of this approach.
Key words: literature review, research synthesis, methodology, research archive,
comparative analysis, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, quality of life
World Database of Happiness