Minor: Quality of Life and Happiness Economics

This course is for Bachelor-3 students and explores some of the most important yet least understood aspects of life – Quality of Life and Happiness. It addresses the booming interest in improving employee, societal, and personal well-being. This interest has emerged from the increasing awareness in the business world that a happy and healthy workforce is pivotal for success and the increasing conviction among policy makers and individuals that a good life goes beyond economic welfare. This interdisciplinary minor develops the student’s expertise on various aspects of well-being by exploring contemporary insights from applied economics (particularly happiness economics and health economics), business economics, psychology, and sociology.

In this course, we explore the science of well-being. Core questions that will be covered include: What makes whom happy? Do people make optimal choices to achieve their well-being goals? If not, how can people be supported in optimizing their well-being? And, do happier and healthier citizens and employees actually stimulate better societal outcomes and company profits? To answer these and other questions, this minor will use contemporary scientific evidence and offer multidisciplinary perspectives. Scientific literature and video talks from top researchers and are discussed in the interactive lectures. In addition, students conduct own empirical analyses to explore the topic of quality of life. The graded assessments are mostly individual assignments that are oriented on testing the student’s understanding of and ability to critically reflect on the course material as well as the ability to develop interventions to improve quality of life. The knowledge and skills learned in this course are particularly vital for future managers, modern and applied economists, policy makers, human resources specialists, psychologists, and related professions. The course material is also relevant on a more personal level, as personal well-being is important in its own right and instrumental in reaching other goals in life such as a successful career.


Overview modules                                                                                                  
The minor contains five modules, which will be described below.

Module 1: Quality of life: An introduction
Content: This module addresses the following main questions: 
- What is quality of life and happiness?
- How to measure quality of life and happiness?
- Do people seek to maximize happiness?
- How do feelings of (un)happiness affect our behavior and social, economic, and health outcomes?
- What are the main determinants of happiness?
- Do people make happiness optimizing choices?
Teaching method: Lectures/Seminars.
Teaching materials: Scholarly articles and videos.
Lecturer: Dr. Martijn Hendriks

Module 2: Empirical explorations of quality of life
Content: In this module, students conduct empirical analyses on topics related to quality of life and happiness. The students will learn basic statistical techniques that go beyond the course material of the statistics courses in their bachelor program. The students will be introduced to and perform analyses in the popular software program Stata. Students do NOT need any prior knowledge of Stata. By writing a small research paper, this module prepares students for the Bachelor’s and Master’s Thesis and helps students to deepen their knowledge of a quality-of-life related topic of choice.
Teaching method: Tutorials.
Teaching materials: Assignments.
Instructor: Drs. Emma Pleeging & Dr. Martijn Hendriks

Module 3: Quality of life and Work
Content: This module addresses the following main questions: 
- What is employee well-being?
- How to measure employee well-being?
- How do various job characteristics affect employee well-being?
- How to improve employee well-being?
- How do labor market choices affect happiness?
- How important is income for happiness?
- How does unemployment affect happiness?
This module ends with a lecture in which multiple companies present bussiness cases related to employee well-being.
Teaching method: Lectures/Seminars.
Teaching materials: Scholarly articles and videos.
Lecturers: Dr. Efstratia Arampatzi & Drs. Indy Wijngaards  

Module 4: Quality of life and health
Content: In this module students will learn—through literature and discussion— about the concepts of health, health-related quality of life, and how these concepts are related to wellbeing. The students will learn to understand how these concepts can be applied for evaluating policies, and thus be used to support decision-making in the health care sector. Students will learn that different methods exist for measuring and valuing health-related quality of life, and they will develop insight in the usefulness of the information these methods generate for different stakeholders in the health care sector. What should be measured? And whose preferences should count when valuing quality of life? These are important questions when it comes to assessing the costs and benefits of treatment options and subsequent patient, clinical and policy decisions about which treatments to select.
Teaching method: Lectures/Seminars.
Teaching materials: Scholarly articles.
Lecturer: Prof. Job van Exel.

Module 5: Quality of life and society
Content: This module addresses the following main questions:
- How do various contemporary societal issues and developmentsincluding social unrest, governance, public policy, migration, the living environment, inequalities, and social capital affect quality of life and happiness?
- Are the current practices and developments regarding these societal aspects conducive to a happy society?
- How to achieve a happier society?
Teaching method: Seminars
Teaching materials: Scholarly articles, popular articles, and videos.
Lecturers: Dr. Martijn Burger & Dr. Martijn Hendriks
Note: Module 5 is not required for ESE students that opt for a 12 ECTS minor.


Coordinator and contact person

Dr. Martijn Hendriks
E: hendriks@ese.eur.nl
T: 010-4089734
Room: M5-39

Website EUR minors