World Database of Happiness

What sort of database?

The World Database of Happiness is a ‘finding archive’. It contains abstracts of research finding on the subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole, both findings on how happy people are in different times and places and findings on things that go together with more or less happiness. To date the database includes some 38.000 findings which can be easily browsed in several ways.  

Aims of the World Database of Happiness

To provide an overview of available research findings on happiness, in particular findings on:

  • how happy people are
  • determinants of happiness
  • consequences of enjoying life or not

The view on these facts is clouded in several ways, such as by confusion of tongues and selective citing. The database is designed to overcome these limitations. It limits to one definition of happiness, gathers the available data on that kind of happiness exhaustingly and describes the observations in a standard format and language.  

Conceptual scope of the World database of Happiness
Happiness is defined as the subjective enjoyment of one’s life-as-a-whole, in short as ‘life-satisfaction’. Click here for a more detailed definition.
The database restricts to research that covers this concept and does not include the many other things denoted with the word happiness. Research findings are included only if based on measures of happiness that fit this definition. Acceptable measures of happiness are gathered in the collection of happiness measures.  

Contents of the World Database of Happiness

Scientific publications that deal with happiness in this sense (±15000)

Research findings, each described on a ‘finding page’ in a standard format using a standard terminology (±38000).

  • Distributional findings on how happy different kinds of people are in particular times and places (±18000)
  • Correlational findings on things that go together with more or less happiness, e.g. the statistical relation between happiness and income (±20000)

Each of these findings is summarized on a ‘finding page’, using a standard format and technical vocabulary. The finding pages contain a link to the publication from which they are taken. Finding pages can be browsed in several ways, such as on topic and population. Finding pages are also gathered in various ‘finding reports’ such as collections of all findings observed in a particular nation (e.g. the USA) or public (e.g. elderly).

Uses of the World database of Happiness

Orientation on empirical happiness research; what has been investigated and what not yet?

Review studies on particular topics, such as the relation between income and happiness

  • Narrative reviews that summarize main trends in the data in words
  • Quantitative research synthesis, such a meta-analysis, that put figures on trends and differences in earlier research findings

Review studies can use the database as an online appendix. Since all finding pages in the database have a unique internet address, review reports can link to detail in the database, This technique allows both more condensed and more informative reviews.

Planning of new research

  • What is new what is not? The database provides an easy overview
  • What measures are most apt? The database provides on overview of the available questions and populations in which these questions have been used

Products of the World Database of Happiness

Advice based on evidence-based knowledge about happiness. 

Benchmarking data: How does happiness of your clients compare to what was found for similar populations?

Reviews of what we know and do not know about happiness

  • On particular topics, such as happiness and income
  • For particular people, such as the elderly.


Sponsors of the World database of Happiness

Sponsors can support the database as a whole or support the gathering of results of happiness research on particular topics or populations.

  • Sponsors are mentioned on the website and on the reports of the topics they sponsor
  • Sponsors commit for a period of 4 years.
  • During that period EHERO completes the collection of research findings on the sponsored topic and produces a review paper on ‘what we know and do not yet know’ about happiness on the sponsored topic.

Detailed info about arrangements for sponsors is found here. 

People behind the World Database of Happiness

Direction: Dr. Martijn Burger and Prof. dr. Ruut Veenhoven

Home team

External research associates

Website of the World Database of Happiness

December 2020



Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes