World Database of Happiness
Archive of research findings on the subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole
The view on facts about happiness is clouded in several ways:
- The subject is called by different names and the word ‘happiness’ is also used to denote other things than life-satisfaction. Close reading of research reports is required to see whether a study deals with this particular subject or with something else.
- Even after selection on concept, the amount of research findings is too large to oversee, even for specialists.
- The view on facts is further blurred by differences in technical jargon and statistical analysis.
- Most of the research findings cannot be retrieved bibliography and get lost.
The World Database of Happiness deals with these problems in the following ways:
- Focus on a well-defined concept of happiness (life-satisfaction), only results of studies that deal with this concept are included in the Bibliography of Happiness.
- Exhaustive search for reports of empirical research on that matter.
- Selection of studies of that use an acceptable measure of happiness.
- Description of the observed findings in standard abstracts, using a common terminology and statistics.
- Ordering these finding abstracts by subject, method and population.
- Homogenizing statistics as far as possible.
The database lists two kinds of research findings:
a) Distributional findings that are about how happy or unhappy people are in particular groups, times and places.
b) Correlational findings that are about things that go together with happiness.
To date (2017) the database includes some 25.000 research findings on happiness, which can be easily sorted on topic, method and population.
Research findings are also combined in ‘finding reports’ such as:
- Nation reports, that list all findings ever observed in particular nation, such as the USA
- Public reports, that list all the findings ever observed in a particular population, such as the elderly
- Measure reports, that list the findings obtained with particular measures of happiness
- Correlate reports, that list correlational findings on a particular subject, such as ‘happiness and Income’
- Trend reports, that list findings on change in happiness over time
- Veenhoven, R. (2009) World Database of happiness: Tool for dealing with the data deluge, Psychological Topics (special issue on Positive Psychology) 2009, 18: 221-246
- Veenhoven, R. (2019) The World Database of happiness: Example of a focussed findings archive, Working paper No. 169, German Data Forum RatSWD