Erasmus University Rotterdam, Social Sciences, Department of Sociology





Section 1

Concept, measurement, determinants and consequences

Conceptions of the good life

Description Conceptual analysis
Output 2010

Publication 'Capabilities and happiness'

Planning 2011 Introductory chapter Handbook of Happiness
People Veenhoven

Measurement of happiness

Description Techniques for measuring subjective enjoyment of life
Output 2010

Concept papers on DRM application 'Yesterday's Diary' in HOVO-effect study (Oerlemans, Tadic)

Continuation of GeluksWijzer project, which will allow comparison of different measures of mood
Dissertation Wim Kalmijn (2-12-2010)
Start Experience Sampling using mobile phones in youth holiday camps (project Kinderhulp)
Start Experience Sampling using mobile phones with GPS in leisure settings (Nawijn)
Planning 2011

Papers on Happiness Scale Interval Study
- paper on first results (Kalmijn/Veenhoven)
- paper on Dutch study (with DeJonge CBS)

Reports on gelukswijzer
Exploration of methods for transformation of responses on 1-10 numerical scales to range 0-10 (Kalmijn)
People Kalmijn, Nawijn, Oerlemans, Tadic, Veenhoven


International happiness scale interval study

Description Improving the 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 values are entered in the item bank and will allow automatic computation of transformed scores. Click here for detail.
Output 2010

Papers by Kalmijn accepted for publication and also published in his dissertation

Studies completed in Dutch (6,7), French (1,2,3), Italian (1), Japanese (3), Spanish (9), (Turkish (4)
Planning 2011

More studies in Danish, English, Icelandic, Farsi (Iran), Norvegian, Polish

Analysis of the results
Entering first findings in collection Measures of Happiness
People Hermus (RISBO), Kalmijn, Mulder, Veenhoven


Synthesis of research findings on happiness

Description Synthesis of research findings on happiness, using data available in the World Database of Happiness
Output 2010

Exploratory analysis of available data on:
. happiness and education (VandeVooren)
. male/female differences in conditions for happiness (Meijer)

Revision of paper on happiness and IQ (Veenhoven)
Strategy paper on use of research synthesis (Veenhoven)
Publication paper "How to deal with the data-deluge'? (Veenhoven)
Planning 2011 Analysis of availabale data on unemployment (Veenhoven/Zijlmans)
Start of various chapters for Springer Handbook of Happiness that will involve research systhesis
People Meijer, VandeVooren, Veenhoven, Zijlmans

Theory of happiness

Description Review of theories about happiness: mental process, functions, determinants and consequences. Assesment of fit with the available data
Output 2010

Publication paper 'How universal is happiness?'

Planning 2011 Completion paper 'Cognition and Affect'
Revision of paper: 'Sociology's Blind Eye for Happiness'
Chapter on theories for Handbook of Happiness
People Veenhoven

Reviews of happiness research

Description Review studies
Output 2010

Reviews by Veenhoven in:
. Corsini Encyplopedia of Psychology
. World Book of Happiness (Bormans ed, Lemma)
. Gamma Canon (Volkskrant en boek)
. Encyclopedia of the Mind (Sage)
. Handbook of Happiness (Oxford)
. Handbuch Glueck (Henning)
. Handbook Quality of life (Springer)
. Handbook of Positive Psychology (Oxford)
. Themanummer Kwaliteit van Leven (NT tandheelkunde)
. Psychologie Positive (Krumm)
. The Good Life in Technological Age (Routledge)

start 'Handbook of Happiness' (Springer)

Bookreviews by Ott
. bookreview editor for Journal of Happiness Studies
. review article 'Limited experienced happiness or unlimited expected happiness' (J of Happiness Studies)

Planning 2011 Continuation Handbook of Happiness ((Springer)
Start edited volume on 'Happiness across Cultures' (Springer)
Contributions to Encyclodepia of Quality of Life (Springer) by Ott and Veenhoven
People Ott, Veenhoven

Section 2

Collection of empirical research findings on happiness, meant to facilitate research synthesis. Serves as the basis for several projects in this program. Click here to go to the website.

Visits: Since its start in 1999, the database was visited 743.760 times by 22-8-2010. About 20% of the visitors used the site more than once. The expected number of visits in 2010 is 135.000, which is 50% more than in 2009 (90.032). Estimated visits to specific collections in 2010: Bibliography 350, Measures of happiness: 825, Happiness in natons 3.900, Happiness in Publics: 220, Correlational findings: 2.300, States of Nations: 184, Trends in Nations: 256
Citations: Hits in Google Scholar: 1.160 (advanced search on full name)

The Database involves the following collections:

Bibliography of Happiness

Description Collection of publications on happiness in the sense of subjective enjoyment of life
Involves detailed subject classification. Contains currently 6096 publications. Click here to go to the webpage.
Linked to the Directory of Investigators
Also linked to the collections of Distributional Findings and Correlational Findings
Output 2010 282 new publications entered
Re-coding of subject classification completed
Links to Finding collections made
Planning 2011

Entering about 250 new publications
Completing links to full texts
Implementation of search on keywords
Development of computerized scan for new literature on happiness (with university library)

People Boelhouwer, Blok, Chekola, DenBuitelaar, Mulder, Radema, Richters, Veenhoven, Zuidgeest

Measures of Happiness (Item bank)

Description Collection 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. Click here to view the website
Contains currently 1299 measures that passed a test for face-validity, of which 601 in other languages than English
Output 2010 159 new items entered
55 texts in original languages entered
Continuation of Happiness Scale Interval Study
Planning 2011 Entering about 50 new items
Revision of "Thurstone values " used for transformation means to range 0-10 (values assessed in the International Happiness Scale Interval Study)
People Kalmijn, Mulder, Veenhoven

Distributional Findings

Description Happiness in nations|
Presents responses on acceptable questions on happiness in surveys of the general population in nations.The collection can be searched on type of measure, time and nation
Contains currently 3933 findings from 154 nations 1942-2010
Output 2010 109 new findings entered
Automatic generation of finding reports and maps on website
Improved and more complete presentation of finding details
Planning 2011

Entering about 200 new findings
Implementing "Thurstone values obtained from 'Happiness Scale Interval Study

People Elia, Radema, Veenhoven, Wartena

Description Happiness in Regions
Presents responses on acceptable questions on happiness in regions. The collection can be searched on happiness measure, time and nation.
Contains currently 277 findings in 54 regions
Output 2010 Development of this new collection and implementation on the website
Planning 2011

Entering about 200 new findings
Contact with scholars in regional geography for first analyses

People Elia, Radema, Veenhoven, Wartena

Description Happiness in publics
Presents responses on acceptable questions on happiness in specific publics, such as aged people.
Contains currently 2555 findings in 1319 studies
Output 2010 120 new findings entered
Planning 2011

analysis of happiness in children

People Blokzijl, Veenhoven

Correlational findings

Description Collection of correlational findings on happiness
Research findings are presented in mini-abstracts using standardized terminology. Abstracts can be searched on subject, happiness measure, time, nation and public.Click here to go to the website.
Contains now 12.022 findings from 1319 studies
Output 2010 Entered 120 new studies involving 771 findings
Strategy paper
Planning 2010

Entering about 100 more studies
Finalizing instruction for excerpters

People Blokzijl, DenBuitelaar, Elia, Huijsmans, Kalmijn, Mieras, Ott, Radema, VandeVooren-Koopman, VanderPoel, VanHecke, Veenhoven, Wartena, VanderVlugt, Zijlmans

States of nations datafile

Description SPSS data file of nation variables
Involves data on happiness in nations derived from the above collections and further characteristics of nations taken from international statistics and surveys.Meant to facilitate cross-national research on happiness. Click here to go to the website.
The data file is free available on request.
Contains currently 155 nations
Output 2010

some 10 new nations added, mainly from Gallup World Poll
some 10 variables added
111 copies provided on request

Planning 2011 Entering data on values in nations taken from World Values Survey wave 5
People Elia, Veenhoven, Wartena, Wildschut

Trends in nations datafile

Description SPSS data file of trend data in nations
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. Click here to go to the website.
The data file is free available on request.
Contains currently time series of 30 years and more in 12 nations
Output 2010 none
Planning 2011

Update to 2009
Addition of time series using Thurstone values obtained from 'Ínternational Happiness scale Interval Study
Addition of timeseries in special publics in nations (e.g. males and females)

People ChinHonFoer, Veenhoven, Wartena

Software development

Description Improvement of database system and website
Output 2010 Various improvements of website
Start redesign of the datasystem (with University Library)
Planning 2011 Continuation of redesign of the datasystem
People Radema, Veenhoven

Directory of investigators

Description Names of investigators on happiness
Part of the Bibliography of Happiness and links to publications. Contains currently 9270 names and about 5000 recent addresses. Available on request for scientific purposes. Click here to go to this webpage.
Output 2010 209 new names and adresses entered
Planning 2011 Entering about 250 new names
Promotion mailing to active authors
People Boelhouwer, Blok, DenBuitelaar, Ott

Section 3

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

Question How can we create greater happiness for a greater number?
Feasibility of political utilitarianism
Output 2010

Dissertation Maarten Berg (14-10-2010)

Concept dissertation Ad Bergsma
Master thesis Zijlmans (Utrecht University) 'Work involvement in the valuation of unemployment
Papers by Veenhoven
- Greater happiness for a greater number: Is that possible and desirable? (accepted for JOHSj)
Publicatie papers Ott
- Good governance and happiness in nations (J of happiness Studies)
- Greater happiness for a greater number.. (J of happiness Studie
Planning 2011

Promotion Ad Bergsma

Paper on happiness and welfare state (on basis of thesis Julia Propp)
Paper on happiness and unemployment (one basis of thesis TeunZijlmans)
Publication paper Ott 'Government and happiness in 130 nations'
Promotion Jan Ott
Paper Jan Ott on Governance, Freedom and Happiness
People Berg, Ott, Propp, Veenhoven, Zijlmans

Trend of happiness in nations

Question Is life getting better or worse? Are we on the right track?
Output 2010 Paper 'Happiness and modernity' (Veenhoven/Berg)
Paper 'Is life getting better?' (Veenhoven)
Presentation 'Why are the Danes happier than the Dutch?' (Positive Psychology conference)
Planning 2011 Paper 'Winners and losers of post-modernity' (Veenhoven with Boelsums)
Update TrendReports (Blokzijl)
Automatic update and presentation of time graphs
Concept paper 'Happiness and cultural conflict' (Veenhoven with VanAchteren)
Publication paper 'Why are the Danes happier than the Dutch?'
People Berg, Blokzijl, Veenhoven

Inequality of happiness in nations

Question What determines dispersion of happiness in nations?
Output 2010 Paper 'Income inequality and happiness in nations (Berg/Veenhoven)
Dissertation Wim Kalmijn on measurement of inequality in happiness
Planning 2011

Paper Ott 'Government and happiness in 130 nations (SIR )

People Kalmijn, Ott, Veenhoven

Gender-inequality and happiness in nations

Question Does women's emancipation add to their happiness?
Output 2010 Master thesis 'Happiness of women in male jobs' (Kohlen)
Planning 2010 Revision of paper on gender differences in happiness around the world (Blokzijl)
Paper 'Happiness of working mothers: a research synthesis' (Blokzijl)
Master thesis Happiness of women in male professions (VandenBerg)
People Blokzijl, Kohlen, Raaijmakers, Veenhoven

Mental health care and happiness

Question How can health-care add to happiness? How can happiness add to public health?
Output 2010 Paper 'Happiness among the disturbed' (Bergsma)
Analysis of psychologists p/c and happiness in nations
Planning 2011 Article 'Mental health care and happiness in nations' (Veenhoven/Touburg)
Article 'Contribution of psychology to human happiness' (Veenhoven)
People Bergsma, Blokzijl, Touburg, Veenhoven

Local happiness

Question Do local conditions affect happiness? If so, how? 
Output 2010 none
Planning 2011 Publication 'Happiness in Rotterdam' (Ouweneel)
People Ouweneel, Veenhoven

Livability of old age homes

Question What kind of home produce most happy life years?
Output 2010 none
Planning 2011 Start of follow-up studies in residential care using the 'GeluksWijzer'
People Veenhoven

Happiness and education

Question What education creates the greatest happiness?
Output 2010 Research synthesis 'Happiness and Education' (VandeVooren)
Master thesis 'Happiness in elementary schools' (VanVaalen)
Revision paper Happiness and IQ (Veenhoven/Choi)
Planning 2011 Paper 'happiness and education'
Continuation research on happiness in schools (VanVaalen, Kohlen)
People Kohlen, VandeVooren, VanVaalen

Section 4

What can we do to get happier? What lifestyles are most gratifying, what trainings are 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.

Lifestyle and happiness

Question What life-styles yield most happiness for what people?
Focus on time use
Output 2010

4th year data-gathering in HOVO-effect study (VanHerpen)

Publication paper 'Life-Balance and happiness' (Veenhoven)

Revision article 'Happy Aging' (Oerlemans, Bakker, Veenhoven)

Publication papers by Nawijn
- 'Vacationers happier' in J of Applied Research in QOL
- 'The holiday happiness curve' in J of Tourism Research
Planning 2011 Third interim report on DRM follow-up study among senior students
Dissertation Nawijn
Publication paper 'Happy Ageing' (Bakker/Oerlemans/ Tadic/Veenhoven)
Publication review paper 'Leisure and happiness' (Nawijn/Veenhoven)
People Bakker (PSY), Hermus (RISBO), Nawijn, Oerlemans (RISBO), Tadic (guest), VanHerpen (RISBO), Veenhoven

Long-term effects of life-choices on happiness

Question What ways of life yield most happiness for what people?
Focus on major choices such as having children, emigration and early retirement.
Output 2010

Start of large scale follow-up study on internet GeluksWijzer

Analysis of first results
- happiness and drinking
- happiness and age
- happiness during the World Cup

Start-up of side projects
- happiness among personel of retail shops
- happiness in mental health care
- happiness in schools

English website
Planning 2011 Campain to get to 30.000 participants
First scientific paper
Master theses (3) on happiness and occupation, using Wage Indicator
Master thesis of happiness of working mothers (Geerds)
People Bakker (PSY), Hermus (RISBO), Oerlemans (RISBO), Veenhoven

Happiness advice

Question What is advised in advisory books on happiness?
How effective are these recommendations?
Output 2010 Concept dissertation Bergsma
Planning 2011 Promotion Bergsma
People Bergsma, Veenhoven

Happiness trainings

Question Do lessons in happiness really add to happiness? .
Output 2010 Continuation of 2 effect studies using internet DRM follow-up over 5 years (financed by ZonMw, coordination Trimbos Institute)
- Effect of 'Art-of -Living' game on the happiness of elderly
- Effect of lessons in happiness on the happiness of secundary school pupils
Interim report on lessons in happiness (Tadic, Braam)
Planning 2011 First report
People Braam (Verweij-Jonker Instituut)., Tadic, Veenhoven

Section 5

Happiness of the disturbed

Description What mental disturbances interfere with happiness and which do not?
Analysis of NEMIZIS data set
Output 2010 Paper 'Happiness of the disturbed' accepted
Planning 2011 Promotion Ad Bergsma
People Bergsma (in cooperation with DeGraaf Trimbos Institute)

Genes and happiness

Description Genetic determinants of happiness
Output 2010 Publication of a review paper by GeneQOL consortium (Veenhoven co-author)
Planning 2011  
People Veenhoven

Section 6

Staff at September 1st, 2010

Name job status fte
Maarten Berg (drs) data analysis guest PM
Anneke Blok                                      documentalist volunteer 0,1
Cunie Boelhouwer documentalist volunteer 0,2
Carla DenBuitelaar office management volunteer 0,4
Sasqia Blokzijl-ChinHonFoei (drs) data entry, data analysis NWO 0,4
Mark Chekola (emeritus professor) bibliography, philosophy section volunteer 0,1
Armand Elia data entry distributional findings volunteer 0,1
Ineke Huijsmans (drs) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Wim Kalmijn (ir) methodology, statistics volunteer 0,2
Hans Mieras (ir) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,4
Joop Mulder text processing volunteer 0,4
Jan Ott (mr drs) data analysis, data entry correlational findings NWO 0,4
Babette Pouwels (dr) from 1-10-2010 project management, data analysis FSW postdoc 0.8
Fredrik Radema (ir) IT volunteer 0,6
Jos Richters documentalist volunteer 0,2
Jan VandeVooren (dr) data analysis volunteer 0,2
Janna VandeVooren-Koopman data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
George VanderPoel (dr MD) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Treze VanHecke (mr) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Frank VanderVlugt (ir) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Ruut Veenhoven (prof dr) direction, data analysis volunteer 0,8
Paul Wartena (drs) data entry distributional findings volunteer 0,2
Gerard Wildschut documentation volunteer 0,1
Ems Zuidgeest (MD) documentation volunteer 0,2
Teun Zijlmans data analysis, data entry correlational findings FSW AIO 0,6


Name Subject

Bachelor students

Master students
Luc Benda Happiness and work conditions: Analysis of Wage indicator
Minoum Bouissaghouane Happiness and early retirement: analysis of GSOEP longitudinal data
Jaap Geerts Happiness of working mothers: analysis of GSOEP longitudinal data
Evelien Hoefnagel happiness and criminality in nations: analysis of States of nations
Maaike Kohlen Happiness of working women, analysis of POLS datasdet
Eric Meijer male/female differences in conditions for happiness: synthesis of WDH correlational findings
Joyce VanLeeuwen Happiness and occupation of worling women : analysis of Wage Indicator
Samantha VandenBerg Happiness and occupation: analysis of Wage Indicator


Ph D students

Maarten Berg Happiness and society
Ad Bergsma Happiness advice
Wim Kalmijn Quantification of happiness inequality
Jeroen Nawijn Happiness and Leisure
Jan Ott Happiness and governance in nations

Visiting fellows

Name Institute period
Mark Chekola (prof, dr) Dpt. of Philosophy, Minnesota State Univ, USA October 2010
Maja Tadic (MA) PhD student, Institute of social sciences, Zagreb, Croatia Spring 2011
Deborah Godoy (dr) Dpt of Psychology, University of Granada, Spain Spring 2011
Diane Vella-Brodrik Dpt of Psychology, Monash University, Australia 2011


Office and equipment are provided by the department of sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Most of the staff are volunteers, including Veenhoven after his retirement. Additionally the Dutch science foundation (NWO) pays 0,8 scientific staff (Blokzijl, Ott) and the department of sociology pays 0,5 position for a graduate student (Berg).

Donations can be made to a special Support Fund for the World Database of Happiness that is adminstered by Erasmus University's Trustfund. The goal of the fund is to promote the maintenance, updating and scientific use of the collections.

Long-term continuation of the collection is also advanced by the Stichting Onderzoek Geluk (Foundation for Happiness Research)


Party Project Persons

within Erasmus University Rotterdam
Library Redesign of World Database of Happiness Peter VanHuistede
RISBO HOVO effect studie Sanne VanHerpen
GeluksWijzer and related projects Wido Oerlemans
Dpt. of psychology GeluksWijzer Arnold Bakker
Dpt. of sociology Culture conflict and happiness in nations Peter Achterberg
Mental health care and happinessin nations Giorgio Touburg
Occupation and happiness: analysis of Wage Indicator Keja Tijdens

external parties
Verwij-Jonker Institute Evaluation of lessons in happiness in secundary education Huub Braam
CBS Happiness Scale Interval Study appliued to survey questions on happiness in Dutch (studies dutch 6 and 7) Tineke DeJong
UVIT insurance GeluksWijzer project Nicole Haarsma
OECD Wiki progress website Phillipa Lysagt
Detailhandel Nederland Application of GeluksWijzer on retail personel Sander VanGolderdinge
Joepps Development of Experience Sampling using GPS mobile phone Danny Gorter
Kinderhulp Nederland Evaluation of children's summer camp using mobile phones Pascale VanAmersfoort
GGZ BAVO groep Application of GeluksWijzer in e-health psychiatry Eric Hoenkamp
Application of GeluksWijzer in preventive mental health for adolescents Maria Smets
Vitea Development of personel happiness follow-up using GeLuksWijzer Onno Hamburger

Program history

Happiness Research Program 2001 (in Dutch)

Happiness Research Program 2003 (in Dutch)

Happiness Research Program 2004 (in Dutch)

Happiness Research Program 2005 (in Dutch)

Happiness Research Program 2006

Happiness Research Program 2007

Happiness Research Program 2008

Happiness Research Program 2009

Happiness Research Program 2010