Erasmus University Rotterdam, Social Sciences, Department of Sociology





Section 1

Concept, measurement, determinants and consequences

Conceptions of the good life

Description Conceptual analysis
Output 2011

Paper Qualities of life and happiness (in Dutch)

Planning 2012 Lemma's in Encyclopedia of Quality of Life (Springer Press)
People Veenhoven

Theory of happiness

Description Review of theories about happiness: mental process, functions, determinants and consequences. Assesment of fit with the available data
Output 2011

Paper on cognition and affect across nations accepted (Veenhoven)

Planning 2012 Revision of paper: 'Sociology's Blind Eye for Happiness'
Chapter on theories for Handbook of Happiness
People Veenhoven

Measurement of happiness

Description Techniques for measuring subjective enjoyment of life
Output 2011

Paper on DRM application 'Yesterday's Diary' in HOVO-effect study: Finding the key to happy aging, by Bakker, Oerlemans and Veenhoven

Revision measure of Inequality Adjusted Happiness (IAH) in Nations
(Kalmijn, Veenhoven; submitted)
Paper on recall bias in responses to questions about mood among adolescents, using the GeluksWijzer technique (Tadic, Bakker, Oerlemans, Veenhoven: submitted)
Comments on paper by Delhey about measurement of inequality of happiness in nations accepted (Kalmijn, Veenhoven)
Planning 2012 Continuation of Happiness Scale Interval Study (see below)
People Kalmijn, 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 2011 Paper Happiness scale interval study: methodological considerations
Published in SIR (Kalmijn, Arends, Veenhoven)
Data on ratings of questions in Dutch entered in collection Measures of Happiness
Planning 2012

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

Analysis of the results in Dutch (De Jonge)
Analysis of the results in Spanish (Vargas)
Paper on all languages (De Jonge, Kalmijn, Veenhoven)
Analysis of first 17 studies (Kalmijn, Veenhoven)
People De Jonge, Hermus, Kalmijn, Mulder, Vargas, Veenhoven

Synthesis of research findings on happiness

Description Synthesis of research findings on happiness, using data available in the World Database of Happiness
Output 2011

Analysis correlations happiness and education (Van de Vooren)

Analysis male/female differences in conditions for happiness (Meijer)
Analysis correlations happiness and illness (Van der Poel, Van Kooten)
Paper on WDH as a tool for research synthesis (Veenhoven, published)
Planning 2012 Publication paper on happiness and IQ (Veenhoven & Choi, accepted)
Publication papers on happiness and...
. education (Van der Vooren, Veenhoven)
. illness (Van der Poel, Van Kooten, Veenhoven)
. male/female differences (Meijer, Veenhoven)
Start Springer Handbook of Happiness that will involve research synthesis
People Meijer, Van der Poel, Van de Vooren, Van Kooten, Veenhoven

Reviews of happiness research

Description Review studies
Output 2011

Reviews by Veenhoven in:
. Journal of Happiness Studies
. English Handbook of Positive psychology (Sheldon)
. French Handbook Psychologie Positive (Krumm)
. German Festschrift (Ehalt)
. German Handbook (Tomae)
. The Good Life in Technological Age (Routledge)

Lemma's for Encyclopedia of QOL (Springer) by Chekola, Kalmijn, Ott and Veenhoven

Bookreviews by Ott
. bookreview editor for Journal of Happiness Studies
. review article

Planning 2012 Start Handbook of Happiness (Springer)
Start edited volume on 'Happiness across Cultures' (Springer)
Publication contributions to Encyclodepia of Quality of Life (Springer)
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 979.821 times by 1-1-2012. About 20% of the visitors used the site more than once. Visits to specific collections in 2011: Bibliography of happiness: 446, Measures of happiness: 511, Happiness in nations: 4.190, Happiness in publics: 298, Correlational findings: 1.256, States of Nations: 175, Trends in Nations: 152
Citations: Hits in Google Scholar: 1.260 (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 6.096 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 2011 654 new publications entered
Entering simplified
Planning 2012

Entering all publications up to 2010
Completing links to full texts

People Boelhouwer, Blok, Chekola, Den Buitelaar, 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 1.398 measures that passed a test for face-validity, of which 601 in other languages than English
Output 2011 99 new measures entered
?? texts in original languages entered
Continuation of Happiness Scale Interval Study
Planning 2012 Entering about 50 new measures
Revision of "Thurstone values" used for transformation means to range 0-10 (values assessed in the International Happiness Scale Interval Study)
People Kalmijn, Mulder, Vargas, 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 3.933 findings from 158 nations 1942-2011
Output 2011 789 new findings entered
Planning 2012

Completion up to 2010

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 some 3.000 findings in ?? regions
Output 2011 Some 2.750 new findings entered
Planning 2012

Entering about 500 more findings

People Wartena

Description Happiness in publics
Presents responses on acceptable questions on happiness in 196 specific publics, such as aged people.
Contains currently 2.688 findings in 1.319 studies
Output 2011 133 new findings entered
Planning 2012

Analysis of happiness in children (ChinHonFoei)

People ChinHonFoei, 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 14.089 findings from 1.414 studies
Output 2011 Entered 105 new studies involving 2.067 findings
Start Paid Entry (Hobbelt, Van den Berg )
Planning 2012

Entering about 250 more studies. Priority for eldest. Final goal to include all studies up to 2000

Finalizing instruction for excerpters
Update keywords
People Blokzijl, Den Buitelaar, Hobbelt, Huijsmans, Mieras, Ott, Van den Berg, Van de Vooren-Koopman, Van der Poel, Van Hecke, Veenhoven, Van der Vlugt, Zijlmans

States of nations data file

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 158 nations
Output 2011

2 new nations and some some 10 variables added

107 copies provided on request
Planning 2012 Integration with SDI?
People Elia, Veenhoven, Wartena, Wildschut

Trends in nations data file

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 2011 Update to 2010
Planning 2012

Update to 2012

People ChinHonFoei, Veenhoven

Software development

Description Improvement of database system and website
Output 2011 'Cleaning' of Access databases
Various improvements of website
Planning 2012 Integration of 3 Access databases, upload to SQL
Data entry through the web
People Radema, Veenhoven, Op de Coul (UB)

Directory of investigators

Description Names of investigators on happiness
Part of the Bibliography of Happiness and links to publications. Contains currently 9.912 names and about 5.000 recent addresses. Available on request for scientific purposes.
Click here to go to this webpage.
Output 2011 695 new names and e-mail adresses entered
Planning 2012 Entering about 500 new names
Promotion mailing to active authors
People Boelhouwer, Blok, Den Buitelaar, 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 2011

Promotion Ad Bergsma

Papers by Veenhoven
- Greater happiness for a greater number: Is that possible and desirable? (published inJOHS)
- Greater happiness for a greater number: How can that be achieved? (published in Sheldon)

Planning 2012

Promotion Jan Ott

Paper on happiness and welfare state (on basis of thesis Julia Propp)
Paper on happiness and mental health care (on basis of thesis Touburg)
People Ott, Veenhoven

Trend of happiness in nations

Question Is life getting better or worse? Are we on the right track?
Output 2011 Paper 'Happiness and modernity' revised and submitted (Veenhoven/Berg)
Automatic update and presentation of time graphs on website
Planning 2012 Paper 'Winners and losers of post-modernity' (Veenhoven with Boelsums)
Publication paper 'Why are the Danes happier than the Dutch?'
People Blokzijl, Veenhoven

Inequality of happiness in nations

Question What determines dispersion of happiness in nations?
Output 2011 Paper revision IAH (Kalmijn), update IAH
Paper discussion with Delhey
Planning 2012

Continuation of discussion

People Kalmijn, Veenhoven

Gender-inequality and happiness in nations

Question Does women's emancipation add to their happiness?
Output 2011 -
Planning 2012 Revision of paper on gender differences in happiness around the world (Blokzijl)
Paper 'Happiness of working mothers: a research synthesis' (ChinHonFoei)
People ChinHonFoei, Veenhoven

Mental health care and happiness

Question How can health-care add to happiness? How can happiness add to public health?
Output 2011 Promotion Bergsma
Papers with Bergsma published
- happiness of people with a mental disorder
- value of
Planning 2012 Article 'Mental health care and happiness in nations' (Veenhoven/Touburg)
People Bergsma, Blokzijl, Touburg, Veenhoven

Local happiness

Question Do local conditions affect happiness? If so, how? 
Output 2011 none
Planning 2012 Publication updated 'Happiness in Rotterdam' (Ouweneel)
People Ouweneel, Veenhoven

Happiness and education

Question What education creates the greatest happiness?
Output 2011 Research synthesis 'Happiness and Education' (Van de Vooren)
Datagathering 'Happiness in elementary schools' (Van Vaalen)

Revision and submission paper Happiness and IQ (Veenhoven/Choi)

Revision paper Happiness lessons
Planning 2012 Publication paper 'Happiness and education'
People Van de Vooren, Van Vaalen, Veenhoven

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 2011

Publication article Finding the key to happy aging (Oerlemans, Bakker, Veenhoven)

Publication papers by Nawijn
- The effect of leisure activities on life-satisfaction
Planning 2012 Final report on DRM follow-up study among senior students
Promotion Nawijn
Analysis data on time use in GeluksWijzer (Oerlemans)
People Bakker (PSY), Hermus (RISBO), Nawijn, Oerlemans (PSY), Tadic (guest), Van Herpen (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 2011

Continuation of GeluksWijzer
- recruitment of new participants (now 70.000)
- development and versions in other languages
- presentation on World Congress of Positive Psychology

Master theses (3) on happiness and occupation, using Wage Indicator
Planning 2012 Analysis of GeluksWijzer data (Oerlemans)
Master thesis on happiness and early retirement (Bouissaghouane)
Master thesis of happiness of working mothers (Geerds)
People Bakker (PSY), Hermus (RISBO), Oerlemans (RISBO), Veenhoven

Happiness and success in sports

Question Does Olympic success add to happiness?
Does participation in the Olympic games add to happiness? Only for winners? How long do effects last? Do the effects differ across Olympics and Paralympics?
Planning 2012 Data gathering among sporters selected for the 2012 Olympic games on London using short internet questionnaire: before (May 2012) and right after the games (July 2012).
Start recruiting sporters selected for the Paralympics in 2013
Planning 2013

Last assesment of happiness of London 2012 participants in October 2013. Feedback to participants. Publication of results.
First and second assesment of sporters selected for Paralympics

People Hermus (RISBO), Veenhoven, Vis

Section 6

Staff at January 1st, 2012

Name Job Status fte
Ad Bergsma (dr.) research synthesis senior researcher 0,2
Anneke Blok                                      documentalist volunteer 0,1
Cunie Boelhouwer documentation volunteer 0,2
Carla den Buitelaar office management volunteer 0,4
Sasqia Blokzijl-ChinHonFoei (drs.) data entry, data analysis volunteer 0,2
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 0,1
Wim Kalmijn (dr. ir.) methodology, statistics volunteer 0,2
Hans Mieras (ir.) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Joop Mulder text processing volunteer 0,6
Jan Ott (mr. dr.) data analysis, data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,4
Fredrik Radema (ir.) IT volunteer 0,6
Jos Richters documentation volunteer 0,2
Peter Schouten (BA E) documentation volunteer 0,2
Jan van de Vooren (dr. ir.) data analysis volunteer 0,2
Janna van de Vooren-Koopman data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
George van der Poel (dr. MD) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Treze van Hecke (mr. drs.) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Pascal van Kooten data entry correlational findings, research synthesis volunteer 0,1
Frank van der Vlugt (ir.) data entry correlational findings volunteer 0,2
Ruut Veenhoven (prof. dr.) direction, data analysis volunteer 0,8
Prisca Vis (MA) data entry bibliography, follow-up study volunteer 0,2
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 entry bibliography volunteer 0,1


Name Subject
Bachelor students
Arne Schmidt  
Master students
Minoum Bouissaghouane Happiness and early retirement: analysis of GSOEP longitudinal data
Eric Meijer Male/female differences in conditions for happiness: synthesis of WDH correlational findings
PhD students
Geal Brule Why are the French not too happy?
Tineke de Jonge Comparability of responses to different survey questions on happiness
Jeroen Nawijn Happiness and Leisure
Jan Ott Happiness and governance in nations
Prisca Vis Happiness and performance in Olympic Games

Visiting fellows

Name Institute Period
Mark Chekola (prof. dr.) Dpt. of Philosophy, Minnesota State Univ, USA October 2012
Maja Tadic (MA) PhD student, Institute of social sciences, Zagreb, Croatia Spring 2011
Hector Vargas Post Doc, Chile August 2011- December 2012

Affiliated free lancers (who enter correlational findings for pay)

Michiel Hobbelt (MA)
Devorah van den Berg (MSc)
Pascal van Kooten


- 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.
- 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 van Huistede
Jasper op de Coul
RISBO HOVO effectstudie Sanne van Herpen
GeluksWijzer, International Scale Interval Study Peter Hermus
Follow-up of Olympic sporters Peter Hermus
Dpt. of psychology GeluksWijzer Arnold Bakker
Dpt. of sociology Mental health care and happinessin nations Giorgio Touburg
Occupation and happiness: analysis of Wage Indicator Keja Tijdens
external parties
Verwey-Jonker Institute Evaluation of lessons in happiness in secundary education Huub Braam
CBS Happiness Scale Interval Study applied to survey questions on happiness in Dutch (studies Dutch 6 and 7) Tineke de Jonge
UVIT insurance GeluksWijzer project Nicole Haarsma
OECD Wiki progress website Phillipa Lysagt
GGZ BAVO groep Application of GeluksWijzer in e-health psychiatry Eric Hoenkamp
Application of GeluksWijzer in preventive mental health for adolescents Maria Smets

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

Happiness Research Program 2011