Richard Layard presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Economic and Social Research Council
12 November 2020
Lord Richard Layard has been presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Economic and Social Research Council for his work in economics which spans more than 50 years.
Professor Layard, the CEP's founder director and current co-director of the centre’s community wellbeing programme, has been at the forefront of research into wellbeing since the publication of his book Happiness in 2005. In it, he explored why, despite countries becoming richer, their citizens didn’t necessarily get any happier. His work since then has looked into the causes of happiness – and led to improvements in access to mental health treatment, happiness lessons for children and the introduction of national statistics which track the nation’s mood.
Announcing the award at an online ceremony today, Jennifer Rubin, ESRC executive chair, said: “The impact of Lord Layard’s work can be seen in so many areas across the fields of education, employment, mental health and climate change and his influence is felt in academic research, public policy, community engagement – and across the political spectrum.”
Receiving the prize, Professor Layard said: “I’m conscious of two hugely important institutions that have framed my life, one is the LSE, where I’ve had so many wonderful colleagues … and the second is the ESRC, they have supported most of my work and in particular over the last 30 years they have given the most incredible support on a continuing basis to the Centre for Economic Performance.”
He added he has worked on wellbeing as a way of measuring policy impact since 2000, and said: “it’s not a new idea, but I think its time has now come - because of the development of the science of wellbeing.”
In the 1960s, Professor Layard was a senior research officer for the Robbins Committee, which recommended greater access to higher education. His work on reducing unemployment in the 1980s and 1990s led to the Labour government’s New Deal programme and in 2015 he brought together leading thinkers to create a Global Apollo Programme to tackle climate change– inspired by the Apollo moonshot programme.
The Centre for Economic Performance grew from a small research centre set up by Professor Layard at London School of Economics and Political Science in the 1970s. This grew to become the ESRC-funded Centre for Labour Economics in the 1980s and developed into the interdisciplinary CEP in 1990.
In a video about his work shown at the ceremony Professor Layard summed up his philosophy. “I think one should, as far as possible, choose to spend one’s time in a way that makes a difference to other people’s lives and that’s what I have been trying to do.”
The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize, now in its eighth year, recognises and celebrates the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research.