CEP LSE RSS Contact Us YouTube Facebook Twitter

photo: De Neve Dr Jan-Emmanuel  De Neve
Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy at the University of Oxford

Understanding the effect of policy on national wellbeing

March 2017
Despite dozens of years of research, we still know precious little about what policies increase national wellbeing.Response
Despite there being much work left to be done in order to operationalize the academic research on wellbeing into actionable policy recommendations, there are a wealth of results that already have direct policy implications. Notably, of course, the negative impact of unemployment for both individuals and communities (and how this compares, for example, with the impact of inflation). The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is in the process of translating the evidence into user-friendly policy-memos. Disagree strongly

In order to find out what raises national wellbeing, we need to have thousands of randomised controlled trials in all major areas of national policy.Response
Carefully considered and executed RCTs across policy areas would be a major step forward in terms of obtaining causal estimated on possible wellbeing policies and advance the notion of evidence-based policy. However, much direction can already be given on the basis of the existing evidence base. Agree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
There is quite some suggestive evidence that having agency in processes is associated with higher wellbeing. Given that flatter organizations allow for employees to engage more actively across the organization it will likely mean that flatter organizations provide more of a sense of agency and thus greater wellbeing. At the same time, employees also desire clarity in order to operate efficiently and effectively. As such there would appear to be something of a trade-off between agency and clarity in designing organizations although on balance the sense of agency is likely to dominate the need for clarity. These dynamics presumably also interact with the skill level of the industry.Disagree

Tilting the tax and subsidy mix in favour of more hierarchical organisations (in a revenue neutral manner) would probably improve the wellbeing of employees.Response
For the reasons outlined before, on balance, a flatter organization is likely to be associated with higher wellbeing so the suggested policy would likely not raise wellbeing.Disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
Although the standard deviation in wellbeing throughout the Christmas period will likely be higher, I expect the average wellbeing to be higher too. This may be due to having (1) a paid holiday and being away from work; and (2) the importance of family ties to wellbeing and this being more salient throughout the Christmas period. In the end, this is an empirical question, and the data from sources such as Mappiness would appear to indicate higher wellbeing in this period on average. Agree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
The number of paid holidays are associated with increases in wellbeing I believe from my reading of the literature. However, it goes without saying that this is not a linear trend that can be extrapolated infinitely since increasing paid leave implies a trade-off in productivity and income.Agree