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Staff Biography

[Photo: Richard LAYARD] Professor Richard LAYARD
Programme Director - Wellbeing
Tel:  020 7955 7048
Email: r.layard@lse.ac.uk
Room/Desk: 32L 2.13  

Curriculum Vitae PDF 

Expertise: wellbeing, labour, unemployment, educational policy, happiness

Happiness: Lessons from a new science

In this new edition of his landmark book, Richard Layard shows that there is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income. Yet as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not just anecdotally true, it is the story told by countless pieces of scientific research. We now have sophisticated ways of measuring how happy people are, and all the evidence shows that on average... More


Thrive: The power of psychological therapy
with David M. Clark

Britain has become a world leader in providing psychological therapies thanks to the work of Richard Layard and David Clark. But, even so, in Britain and worldwide the majority of people who need help still don't get treatment. This is both unjust and a false economy. This book argues for change... More

Good Childhood Report

A Good Childhood: Searching for values in a competitive age
with Judy Dunn

Every day the newspapers lament the problems facing our children - broken homes, pressures to eat and drink, the stress of exams. But is life really more difficult for children than it was, and if so why? And how can we make it better? More



World Happiness Reports

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The report, the fifth one to come out since 2012, continues to gain global recognition as governments, organisations and civil society increasingly use happiness indicators to inform their policy-making decisions.

World Happiness Report



A Global Apollo Programme to combat climate change

Authored by a group of leading scientists, economists and businessmen, this report sets out a major global research programme to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal, and to do it within 10 years.

Legatum Report

Wellbeing and policy

An independent commission chaired by Gus O'Donnell, with Richard Layard, Angus Deaton, Martine Durand and David Halpern as its members, proposes a radical reform of public policy-making. In the report, Wellbeing and Policy, commissioned by the Legatum Institute, the authors conclude that GDP is too narrow a measure of prosperity... More



Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market
with S. J. Nickell and Richard Jackman

This broad survey of unemployment will be a major source of reference for both scholars and students. It aims to provide a basis for better policy: showing how the lessons learned from experience and theory can be applied to greatly reduce the waste and misery of high unemployment...


Tackling Unemployment

This book contains Layard's most influential articles on the subject of unemployment - what causes unemployment and proposes remedies to reduce it. There is a strong focus on how unemployed people are treated and how this affects unemployment.

The book opens with Richard Layard's personal credo Why I am an Economist.  


Tackling Inequality

A companion to Tackling Unemployment, this book contains Layard's most influential articles on education, equality and income distribution and on the lessons of economic transition in Eastern Europe. In it he argues that lifetime inequality is the basic inequality we should worry about. In this context education is a powerful instrument of redistribution, as well as a national investment.


Richard Layard is a labour economist who worked for most of his life on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. He is also one of the first economists to work on happiness, and his main current interest is how better mental health could improve our social and economic life.

Happiness and mental health

He has always believed, like the 18th Century Enlightenment, that societies should be judged by the happiness of the people. And since the 1970s he has urged fellow economists to return to the 18th and 19th century idea that public policy should maximise a social welfare function depending on the distribution of happiness. In 1980 he wrote, according to Richard Easterlin, "the first paper to focus specifically on the policy implications of empirical research on happiness". In 2005 he wrote Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, which was published in 20 languages. A second edition was published in 2011, with a new part in which he responds to the critics and clarifies his argument. He continues to find significant effects of relative income on happiness and to emphasise the importance of non-income variables on aggregate happiness.

In particular he stresses the role of mental health and argues that psychological treatments ought to be much more widely available. Among other good effects, they pay for themselves through increased employment and reduced costs of other healthcare. His work here, with the distinguished psychologist David M. Clark, has led within the English National Health Service to the creation of a major programme of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) which is now treating nearly half a million people a year, of whom a half recover during treatment.

In 2009 he co-authored the Good Childhood Report which emphasised the importance of early intervention to improve the mental health of children. The Report's proposals led to the universal introduction of evidence-based treatment in child mental health. He is also actively involved in promoting mental health in schools, through Healthy Minds, a 4-year secondary school curriculum in life skills being trialled in 30 schools.

In 2014 he wrote a popular book on mental health, Thrive, jointly with David M. Clark. The book argues that spending more money on helping people to recover - and stay well - would actually strengthen the economy.

Like many others, Layard has pushed governments to measure the wellbeing of the population and was delighted when the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced in November 2010 that wellbeing would be a major government objective and be regularly measured in the national statistics.(Click here for his speech at the Conference launching this initiative.)

Worldwide, there is now a search for new models of progress. Professor Layard chaired the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Health and Wellbeing, which produced a report at Davos in January 2012, “WellBeing and Global Success”. The OECD has for some years been attempting to redefine progress, and in July 2011 the UN General Assembly advocated greater priority for policies that promote happiness. Richard co-edits, with Jeff Sachs and John Helliwell, the World Happiness Reports. He was also a member of the Legatum Commission for Wellbeing Policy chaired by Gus O'Donnell. Its report on Wellbeing and Policy was published in March 2014

Richard Layard's concern with how to promote a happier society led him to co-found a new movement called Action for Happiness, which was launched in Spring 2011. Members from all backgrounds pledge to live so as to create as much happiness as they can and as little misery. The movement already more than 70,000 members from over 170 countries.

Unemployment, skills and inequality

On unemployment, in the 1980s Layard and colleagues developed the Layard-Nickell model of how the level of unemployment is determined. This has become the most commonly used model by European economists and governments. It assigns an important role to how unemployed people are treated, and provides the intellectual basis for the welfare-to-work policies introduced in many countries, including Britain, Germany and Denmark.

The basic message is in Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market. This was first published in 1991 and a second edition in 2005 shows how well the model predicts the development of unemployment in different countries since 1991.

On inequality, his work shows the key role of education in influencing the income of individuals and families. He has been a lifelong advocate of better education (including apprenticeship) for less academic youngsters, and the case he made with Hilary Steedman have led to major increases in apprenticeships and the 2009 Apprenticeship Act.

Other roles

In 1985 he founded the Employment Institute which has played a major role in pushing the ideas of welfare-to-work. He was Chairman of the European Commission's Macroeconomic Policy Group during the 1980s. From 1991-1997 he was a part-time economic adviser to the Russian Government and from 1997 to 2001 a part-time consultant to the British government on welfare-to-work and vocational education.

In 2005 the British government accepted his proposals on psychological therapy and since then he has (as National Adviser) been heavily involved in implementing the government programme of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). In 2010, this was extended to cover children.

In 2000 he was made a member of the House of Lords, and is currently a member of its Economic Affairs Committee. In 2014 Layard proposed, with six other colleagues, a Global Apollo Programme of internationally coordinated research to produce clean electricity cheaper than coal-based electricity within 10 years, which provided the model for Mission Innovation - the major international programme launched by Presidents Obama, Modi and Hollande at the UNFCCC in Paris in November 2015.

Selected Writings:


"Wellbeing measurement and cost-effectiveness analysis", Working paper, July 2016

"Promoting Secular Ethics" in J. F. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) . World Happiness Report 2016 Update.  New York, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2016.

“How to make policy when happiness is the goal" (with G O'Donnell) in J. F. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) . World Happiness Report 2015.  New York, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2015.

What predicts a successful life? A life-course model of well-being"(with A.E Clark, F Cornaglia, N Powdthavee and J Vernoit), The Economic Journal, 124(F720-738), November 2014

“The causes of happiness and misery" (with A. E Clark and C Senik) in J. F. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) .World Happiness Report 2012.  New York, The Earth Institute, Columbia University: 58-89, 2012.

Happiness : Lessons from a new science Penguin, Second Edition, 2011.  Download Annex

 “Measuring Subjective Well-Being for Public Policy" (with P. Dolan and R. Metcalfe), Office for National Statistics, February 2011

“Does Relative Income Matter? Are the Critics Right?" (with G. Mayraz and S. Nickell) in E Diener, J Helliwell and D Kahneman (eds)  International Differences in Well-Being, Oxford University Press, New York, 2010

"The Greatest Happiness Principle: Its time has come”, Well-being: How to lead the good life and what government should do to help, (eds) S Griffiths and R Reeves, Social Market Foundation, July 2009

A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age (with Judy Dunn), Penguin, 2009.

The marginal utility of income” (with S. Nickell and G. Mayraz),  Journal of Public Economics, Special Issue: Happiness and Public Economics (eds) T. Besley and E. Saez, Vol 92, Nos 8-9, August 2008

"The Teaching of Values", Ashby Lecture, University of Cambridge, 2 May 2007

Happiness and public policy: a challenge to the profession, Economic Journal, 116, C24-C33, March 2006

"The Return of Happiness: Why wellbeing should be at the heart of politics", Prospect, March 2005

Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures delivered at LSE on 3rd, 4th and 5th March 2003:
Happiness: Has Social Science A Clue?
Lecture 1: What is happiness? Are we getting happier?
Lecture 2: Income and happiness: rethinking economic policy
Lecture 3: How can we make a happier society

“Human satisfactions and public policy”, Economic Journal, December 1980.  Reprinted in Richard A Easterlin (ed), Happiness in Economic,  Edward Elgar, 2002.


Mental health

'Do more of those in misery suffer from poverty, unemployment or mental illness?', (with Sarah Flèche) Kyklos, 70(1), Pages 27-41.

'The economics of mental health'. IZA World of Labor 2017: 321 doi: 10.15185/izawol.321

'Why We Should Spend More on Mental Health,' American Journal of Medical Research, 3(1): 188-206, 2016.

"Healthy Young Minds: Transforming the mental health of children" (with A Hagell), Report of the WISH Mental Health and Wellbeing in Children Forum 2015, World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

Thrive: The power of evidence-based psychological therapies (with David M.Clark) Allen Lane, 2014. Download Annex

"Mental Illness and Unhappiness" (with D Chisholm, Vikram Patel, S Saxena) in J. F. Helliwell, R. Layard and J. Sachs (eds) .World Happiness Report 2013.  New York, The Earth Institute, Columbia University: 38-53, 2013.

Mental Health: The New Frontier for Labour Economics, CEP Discussion Paper No1213, May 2013.

"Enhancing Recovery Rates in IAPT Services: Lessons from analysis of the Year One data" (with A Gyani, R Shafran, and D Clark), Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol 51, Issue 9, Pages 597-606, 2013

How Mental Health Loses Out in the NHS, The Centre for Economic Performance's Mental Health Policy group, June 2012

Improving Access to Psychological Therapy: Initial Evaluation of Two UK Demonstration Sites” (with D Clark, R Smithies, D Richards, R Suckling and B Wright), Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol 47, Issue 8, Pages 637-728, August 2009

"Improving Tier 2-3 CAMHS", July 2009

“Cost-benefit analysis of psychological therapy”,  (with D. Clark, M. Knapp and G. Mayraz), National Institute Economic Review, No 202, October 2007.

The Depression Report: A New Deal for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, The Centre for Economic Performance's Mental Health Policy group, June 2006

The case for psychological treatment centres”, BMJ, 332: 1030-2, April 2006

“Mental health: Britain’s biggest social problem?", Paper presented at the No.10 Strategy Unit Seminar on Mental Health, 20th January 2005

"Mental Health: the Choice of Therapy for All", CentrePiece, December 2005 This article is an edited version of the inaugural Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health Lecture delivered on 12 September 2005.


Unemployment, skills and inequality

Combarring Unemployment

Combatting Unemployment, with Stephen Nickell, IZA Prize Volume,
Oxford University Press, May 2011



"A Job Guarantee", with Paul Gregg, March 2009

“Unemployment experience: some implications for France”, Travail et Emploi, DARES, No 118, April-June 2009

Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market, (with S. Nickell and R. Jackman) Oxford University Press, 1991; 2nd ed., 2005

“Full Employment for Europe” in (eds) A Lopez-Claros, M Porter and K Schwab The Global Competitiveness Report 2005-2006: Policies Underpinning Rising Prosperity,World Economic Forum, 2005

“Apprenticeship and the skills gap” in “Learning to Succeed: the next decade”, the National Commission on Education Follow-up Group, Occasional Paper, University of Brighton, 2003

"Full Employment Is Not Just a Dream" (with S. Nickell), CentrePiece, February 2003
See also Jaap de Koning, Richard Layard, Steve Nickell and Niels Westergaard-Nielsen, "Policies for Full Employment", Department for Works and Pensions Report, March 2004

"Britain's Record on Skills",(with S.  McIntosh and A. Vignoles), Paper No' CEEDP0023, May 2002

"Welfare to Work and the New Deal" World Economics, Vol. 1, No 2 April-June 2000

“Welfare-to-Work and the Fight against Long-Term Unemployment” (with T. Boeri and S. Nickell), Research Brief No. 206, Department for Education and Skills, London, June 2000

“Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance” (with S. Nickell) in O. Ashenfelter and D Card (eds),  Handbook of Labour Economics, Vol. 3C, North-Holland, 1999

Tackling Inequality, Macmillan, 1999

Tackling Unemployment, Macmillan, 1999

"European versus US Unemployment: Different Responses to Increased Demand for skill?", (with R. Jackman, M. Manacorda, and B. Petrongolo), Paper No' CEPDP0349, June 1997

"Combatting Unemployment: Is Flexibility Enough?", (with R. Jackman and S. Nickell), Paper No' CEPDP0293, March 1996

"Lifelong Learning" (with P. Robinson and H. Steedman), Paper No' CEPOP09, December 1995

Britain’s Training Deficit, Avebury, (edited with K. Mayhew and G. Owen) 1994.

Stopping Unemployment, The Employment Institute, (with J. Philpott) September 1991.

The Performance of the British Economy, (edited with R. Dornbusch), Oxford University Press, 1987. 

Handbook of Labor Economics, (edited with O. Ashenfelter), North‑Holland, 1987.   Fifth reprint 2003 (Vol 1).

How to Beat Unemployment, Oxford University Press, 1986. 

The Causes of Poverty, (with D. Piachaud and M. Stewart) Background Paper No. 5, Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth, HMSO, 1978. 



Global Apollo Programme to tackle climate change (with D King, J Browne, G O'Donnell, M Rees, N Stern, A Turner), LSE Centre for Economic Performance, 2015

The Coming Russian Boom, (with J. Parker), The Free Press, 1996.

East-West Migration: The Alternatives, M.I.T. Press, 1992. (with O. Blanchard, R. Dornbusch and P. Krugman).

Macroeconomics.  A Text for Russia, Wiley, Moscow, 1994 (in Russian).

Cost-Benefit Analysis, (Harmondsworth: Penguin) with long introduction, 1972. Second Edition: Cambridge University Press, 1994. (edited with S. Glaister)

Microeconomic Theory, McGraw‑Hill (U.S.), 1978.  (with A.A. Walters). Reissued as McGraw Hill International Edition, 1987.      


See also Publications on LSE Research Online book

CEP Publications: