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photo: Delhey Professor Jan Delhey
Professor of Sociology, University of Magdenburg, Germany

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
If we conceive policies narrowly, then yes, unambiguous findings about the well-being effects of specific policies are rather scares. But more broadly, well-being research has converged about a number of over-arching policy goals which are conducive to human well-being, including: low corruption, wealth, low unemployment, (gender) equality, low inflation and so on.Disagree

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
Although randomised controlled trials might be, in principle, a very sound base for drawing policy conclusion, there is other evidence as well, e.g. from social surveys. We do not need, for example, experiments to see that precarious jobs are detrimental to subjective well-being - we can conclude that from drawing a connection between employment conditions, and life satisfaction. Disagree

Organisational structures on workers' wellbeing

January 2017
Employees in more hierarchical organisations have higher levels of wellbeing than those of flatter organisations.Response
Whether employees fare better in terms of well-being when organizational hierarchies are flat very much depends on the national culture and people's own values. Cross-cultural psychology has shown that people around the world differ in how much social hierarchy they accept and want. A flat hierachy might be very conducive to happiness in the Western world - in particular for highly-educated employees who like to work independently. Yet a flat hierarchy can cause problems in cultures which accept and expect hierarchies. Neither agree nor 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
I don't think that naturally hierachical organization improve the wellbeing of employees.Disagree

Wellbeing and Public Holidays

December 2016
Do you think that populations on average have higher wellbeing during major festive periods like Christmas?Response
As many people in post-industrial societies feel quite a lot of pressure from modern work life, festive periods may be a welcome diversion from the normal "rat race". Public holidays provide an opportunity to suspend the hectic rush at least for a few days. Further, spending time with beloved ones is known to be good for well-being. Yet there is one imminent danger: in partnerships and families which are conflictuous, spending more time together might mean more time to argue. For the population overall, however, I expect the emotional balance sheet of festive periods to be positive. Agree

Do you think on balance that average wellbeing would rise if there were more mandatory public holidays in your country?Response
More mandatory public holidays would mean to have more days to sleep long, to not worry about job-realted deadlines, and to have time for yourself and others. Time and again, research has shown that social capital enhances our well-being, and public holidays are an occassion to connect with others, inside or outside the family. Those who are not part of the workforce may not feel a big difference to a "normal" weekday, however. And the shopping-addicts among us might even suffer from the inconvenience of finding shops closed. But yes, overall a small rise in average wellbeing.Agree