Erasmus University Rotterdam, Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

SUBJECT: Subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole


1) World Database of Happiness

2) Happiness and Public Choice

3) Happiness and Private Choice

4) Further projects


World Database of Happiness

Ongoing catalog of empirical research findings on happiness, meant to facilitate research synthesis and comparison across time and nations. Serves as the basis for most of the further research projects

The data collection is free available on the web:

Since its start in 1999 the database attracted 356.775 visitors, of which 85.775 during the last year.
The Database involves the following inventories:

Bibliography of Happiness

Description Stores publications that deal with happiness in the sense of life satisfaction. Involves detailed subject classification. Contains currently 4636 publications. Linked toDirectory of Investigators
Output 2006 221 new publications entered
Start linking to full text
Planning 2007 Entering about 250 new publications
Linking to full texts and excerpts of correlational findings
People Blok, DenBuitelaar, Mulder, Oostmeijer, Veenhoven, Vijverberg, Zuidgeest

Measures of happiness (Item bank)

Description Inventory of acceptable measures of happiness, mainly survey questions.
Classified by conceptual focus, timeframe, method of assessment and rating scale.
Links to studies that used these measures. Contains currently 968 acceptable measures
Output 2006 93 new items entered
Start entering texts in original languages
Planning 2007 Entering about 50 new items
Recalculating Thurstone weights on the basis of international happiness scale interval study
People Veenhoven, Vijverberg

Happiness in Nations

Description Finding-browser that presents distribution of responses on acceptable questions on happiness in surveys of the general population in nations.
Can be searched on item type, time and nation
Contains currently 2974 findings from 104 nations 1942-2004
Output 2006 174 new findings entered
Update of 8 finding reports on website
Update of maps on website
Planning 2007 Entering about 200 new findings
Implementing Thurstone values obtained from 'Happiness scale interval study
People Veenhoven, Verheyen, Wartena

Correlational Findings

Description Finding browser that presents mini-abstracts of correlational research findings.
Can be searched on subject, happiness item, time and nation.
Contains now 9416 findings from 979 studies in nations
Output 2006 Entered 115 new studies involving 630 findings
Planning 2007 Entering about 150 more studies
Finalizing instruction for excerpters
People Blokzijl, DenBuitelaar, Kalmijn, Metz, Mieras, Ott, Swier, VandeVooren, VandeVooren, VanderPoel, VanHecke, VanOosterdorp, Veenhoven, Wartena

States of nations database

Description SPSS data file of nation variables. Involves data on happiness in nations derived from the above catalogs and further characteristics of nations taken from international statistics and surveys.  
Meant to facilitate cross-national research on happiness.
The data file is free available on request
Contains currently 102 nations
Output 2006 Revision of variable labels, following change to SPSS 14
Reorganisation of archive
Planning 2007 Entering about 30 new variables
People Veenhoven, Wartena, Wiltschut

Trends in nations database

Description SPSS data file of distribution of happiness in nations by year and time-series of background variables drawn from international statistics. Intended to facilitate analysis of trends of happiness in nations. The data file is free available on request. Contains currently time series of 30 years and more in 12 nations
Output 2006 Updated to 2005
Article 'Rising happiness in nations
Planning 2007 Úpdate to 2006
Addition of time series using Thurstone values obtained from 'Ínternational Happiness scale Interval Study
Áddition of time series in social categories, such as aged people
People Veenhoven, Wartena

International Happines-scale Interval Study

Description Improvement of comparability of responses to differently worded questions in different languages using Thurstone transformation technique. Students in different countries rate the happiness intensity of response options to commonly used questions on happiness. The resulting weights are entered in the item bank and will allow automatic computation of transformed scores
Output 2006 Try-out of web questionnaire. Development of a statistical model.
First 6 studies in Dutch and English
Planning 2007 50 more studies in different languages
Analysis of the results
People Hermus (RISBO), Kalmijn, Mulder, Veenhoven

Software development

Description Improvement of database system and website
Output 2006 Optimization of website
Planning 2007 Links to full text of sources
Hosting at University Library
People DeHeer

Directory of investigators on happiness

Description Stores names of investigators on happiness. Part of the Bibliography of Happiness and links to publications. Contains currently 7838 names and about 2000 recent adresses. Available on request for scientific purposes.
Output 2006 273 new names entered
Planning 2007 Entering about 250 new names
People Blok, DenBuitelaar

Happiness and public choice

What policies will create the greatest happiness for the greatest number? The goal of this sub-program is to generate evidence-based knowledge for policy makers who aim at maximizing the level of happiness, while minimizing the difference in happiness among citizens.

The happy society, towards empirically inspired politics

Description Exploration of the practical feasibility of rule-utilitarianism
Output 2006 Paper Income-inequality and happiness in nations, presented at conference
Paper Values and happiness (Draft)
Planning 2007 Publication of above papers
Paper on happiness and correctional policy in nations
People Berg

Inequality of happiness in nations

Description Analysis of dispersion of happiness in nations
Output 2006 none
Planning 2007 Book on the basis of earlier Special Issue of JOHS
People Kalmijn, Ott, Veenhoven

Governance and happiness

Description Effects of govenrment on happiness
Output 2006 Paper on Happiness and Govermant effectiveness, presented at conference
Planning 2007

Publication of the above paper in English and Dutch
Paper on happiness and Size of goverment

People Ott, Veenhoven

Trend of happiness in nations

Description Development of happiness over time. Is life getting better or worse?
Output 2006 Paper 'Rising happiness in nations'published in SIR
Update TrendReports on website
Planning 2007 Update TrendReports
People Veenhoven, Wartena

Gender-inequality and happiness in nations

Description Does women's emancipation add to greater happiness of a greater number
Output 2006 Paper presented at conference
Planning 2007 Publication of the above paper
People Blokzijl


Preventive health care and happiness

Description Happiness appears to lengthen life. What are the consequences of that finding for preventive health care?
Output 2006 Presentations of 2005 report 'Healthy Happiness'
Application for follow-up
Planning 2007 Publication of above paper
Start of follow-up studies: Self-help and happiness, Training for happiness
People Veenhoven


Mental health care and happiness in nations

Description Relation between supply of mental health care and outcome in average happiness
Output 2006 Data analysis, using States of Nations Data file
Planning 2007 Paper
People Touburg (student), Veenhoven

Local happiness

Description Do local conditions affect happiness? If so, how? 
Output 2006 Paper 'Happiness in the Harbour' (Ouweneel)
Thesis: 'Happiness in Shrinking cities' (Delken)
Planning 2007 Thesis: 'Happiness and city size' (VanDijk)
People Mullié, Ouweneel (staf), Delken, VanDijk (students)

Livability of old age homes

Description What kind of home produce most happy life years for comparable residents?
Output 2006 Pilot measurement of happiness using the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) published in a report
Planning 2007 Assessment of interviewer effect in ESM: assesment using face-to-face interviews compared to assesment with palmtop computers
People DeMan, Ott, Veenhoven

Happiness and private choice

What can we do to get happier? What lifestyles are most gratifying, what trainings most effective? How much do the effects differ between kinds of people and why? The goal of this subprogram is to create an evidence-base for happiness advice that can be used in education and counseling.

Happiness advice

Description What is advised in advisory books on happiness? How effective are these recommendations? What works for what kind of people?
Output 2006 Preparation of a special issue for JOHS,
Planning 2007 Publication of above issue
Start of empirical study on effectiveness of reading self-help books
People Berg, Bergsma, Veenhoven


Self-help and happiness

Description Do self-help books help? Effect study using internet EMS
Output 2006 Application for a grant from ZonMw
Planning 2007 Pilots
People Bergsma


Trainings for happiness

Description Do trainings that promise greater happiness really raise happiness? . Effect study using internet ESM
Output 2006 Application for a grant from ZonMw
Planning 2007 Pilot
People Bergsma, Veenhoven


Lifestyle and happiness

Description What life-styles yield most happiness for what people?
Output 2006 Literature review (Wetstein)
Cross-sectional analysis of marketing dataset (Wetstein)
Pilot of follow-up study on activities and happiness in old age, using internet Day Recal Method (DRM)
Planning 2007 End report of above cross-sectional study (Thesis)
Interim repot on above follow-up study
People Veenhoven, Wetstein


Further Projects

Disturbed Happioness

Description What mental disturbances interfere with happiness and which do not?
Output 2006 Analysis of NEMIZIS data set
Planning 2007 Paper
People Bergsma

Theories of happiness

Description Review of theories about happiness: mental proces, functions, determinants and consequences. Assesment of fit with the available data
Output 2006 Paper on 'Sociological Theories of happiness' (accepted for publication)
Paper on 'Sociology's Blind Eye for happiness (Presented at conference)
Planning 2007 Paper on evidence for livability theory of happiness
People Veenhoven


Name job status fte
Maarten Berg (drs) data analysis AIO 0,4
Anneke Blok                                      documentalist volunteer 0,1
Carla den Buitelaar office management EUR-Socia 0,8
Sasqia Blokzijl-ChinHonFoei (drs) data entry, data analysis NWO 0,4
Mark Chekola (emeritus professor) bibliography, philosophy section volunteer 0,1
Henk DeHeer IT volunteer 0,1
Wim Kalmijn (ir) , methodology, statistics volunteer 0,1
Bernard Metz (MD) data entry volunteer 0,1
Hans Mieras (ir) data entry volunteer 0,1
Joop Mulder text processing volunteer 0,4
Hanny VanOostendorp (drs) data entry volunteer 0,1
Wimnny Oostmeijer documentation volunteer 0,1
Jan Ott (mr drs) data analysis NWO 0,4
Piet Ouweneel (drs) data analysis volunteer 0,1
Ruud Swier data entry volunteer 0,1
Jan VandeVooren (dr) data entry volunteer 0,2
Janna Vande Vooren data entry volunteer 0,2
George VanderPoel (dr MD) data entry volunteer 0,1
Treze Vanhecke (mr) data entry volunteer 0,1
Ruut Veenhoven (prof dr) direction, data analysis professor 0,4
Dirk Verheyen (dr) maps volunteer 0,1
Stanny Vijverberg-Vanleeuwen data entry volunteer 0,1
Paul Wartena (drs) data entry UWV 0,8
Gerad Wildschut documentation volunteer 0,1
Ems Zuidgeest (MD) documentation volunteer 0,1


Name Subject

Bachelor students
Giorgio Touburg Happiness and mental health services in nations

Master students
Jenifer Wetsteijn Happiness and life style
Sandy Boulsums Happiness and marriage
Bert VanDijk Happiness and city size
Christine Rittersberger Trend of happiness among women
Liesbeth Snoep Happiness and religion
Minoum ? Happiness and early retirement
Ellis Delken Happiness in shrinking cities


Ph D students

Maarten Berg Happiness and society
Ad Bergsma Happiness advice
Anton DeMan Happiness in fiction
Anthonie Mullie Happiness and local environment
Agahte Rietveld Art of living
Jan Ott Happiness and governance in nations
Piet Ouweneel Local happiness
Ekaterina Uglanova Economic wellbeing
Alex VandenBerg Happiness in organizations

Visiting fellows

Name Institute period
Sonia Hernandez-Plaza Dpt of Social Psychology, U. of Almeria, Spain February 1-10 2006
Venassa Gonzales-Herero Dpt. of Psychology, U. of Malaga, Spain March-May 2006
Ekaterina Uglanova School of Economics, Saint Petesrburg, Russia April-July 2006
Chrita Biron Darmouth college, USA March 19-25 2006
Imrich Ruisel Academy of Science, Slovakia May 2006
Mark Chekola Dpt. of Philosophy, Minnesota State Univ, USA November 2006