Economics of Well-Being

Towards Understanding and Promoting Individual and Collective Well-Being
Verbredende minor
FEB53113 and FEB53113M
10 weken


In this minor, we explore the science of well-being. Core questions that will be covered in this minor 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? How to create thriving organizations and societies with flourishing employees and citizens? And, how do happier and healthier citizens and employees stimulate better societal outcomes and company profits?

To answer these and other questions, this minor will use contemporary scientific evidence and offer multidisciplinary perspectives. The focus will be on topics related to economic behavior and phenomena. To learn about well-being, we will read recent scientific articles and watch videos from top researchers, and we will subsequently discuss these in the interactive lectures. In addition, you will conduct empirical analyses to explore the topic of well-being. The course material combines insights from applied economics (happiness economics, health economics, behavioral economics, and labor economics), business economics, psychology (positive psychology and organizational psychology), and sociology. Both objective and subjective measures of well-being will be discussed, with a focus on subjective well-being (happiness and life satisfaction).

The graded assessments focus on (1) developing ideas and interventions to improve well-being, (2) developing new insights on well-being using empirical data, and (3) critically reflecting on existing ideas about well-being. This minor helps you to develop some core skills, including the ability to work with and critically reflect on scientific literature, conduct data analysis, and develop interventions. This course provides future economists, policy-makers, business leaders, HR specialists, psychologists, and related professions with fundamental expertise in a world where well-being has become a primary theme in organizational and public policies. 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.

Learning objectives

After completing this course, the student will be able to …

  1. evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various conceptualizations and measures of well-being using appropriate arguments.
  2. illustrate how people’s well-being influences their behaviour and achievements by applying appropriate empirical evidence and theories.
  3. critically reflect on lay beliefs, contemporary theories, and empirical analyses on well-being using appropriate arguments.
  4. develop strategies and policies that improve well-being by applying appropriate empirical evidence and theories.
  5. conduct empirical analyses on well-being using basic statistical techniques in Stata.

Special aspects

Students from all educational backgrounds are admissible for this course. We encourage both students with an economic and non-economic background to participate in this minor. This minor is a 15 ECTS course for non-ESE students (5 modules; 10 weeks) and a 12 ECTS course for ESE students (4 modules; 8 weeks), but ESE students can optionally do the fifth module and earn 15 ECTS points. Students are expected to have a genuine interest in economic, psychological, sociological, and epidemiological approaches to well-being. Yet, students are NOT expected to have already been introduced to these fields. Active class particicipation in the interactive lectures is expected. As this minor is delivered in English, a sufficient command of the English language in speech and writing is needed. Students are expected to have an understanding of basic statistics, such as correlations and the basics of regression analysis. No textbooks or other course material has to be purchased for this course. The reading material will be provided by the lecturers after the start of the course. 

Overview modules

1. Well-being: An introduction
2. Empirical analyses of well-being
3. Work and well-being
4. Health and well-being
5. Society and well-being

Note: Module 5 is not obligatory for ESE students.

Module 1: Well-being: An introduction

  • EC: 3
  • Content: This module addresses the following main questions:
    • What is well-being?
    • How to measure well-being?
    • Do people seek to maximize happiness?
    • How do feelings of (un)happiness affect our behavior and other outcomes?
    • What are the main determinants of happiness?
    • Do people make happiness optimizing choices?

The Module ends with a seminar in which students practice with a mock exam.

  • Teaching method: Six interactive lectures.
  • Teaching materials: Scientific articles and videos
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 2: Empirical analyses of well-being

  • EC: 3
  • Content: In this module, students deepen their knowledge of well-being related topics by conducting empirical analyses. For this purpose, students will use statistical techniques to which they have already been introduced in previous statistics courses and learn new statistical techniques. The students will be introduced to and perform analyses in the popular statistical software program Stata. Students do NOT need any prior knowledge of Stata. Given that most students are not yet familiar with Stata, Stata will be introduced from scratch in the tutorials. The skills learned in this module help students prepare for the Bachelor’s and Master’s Thesis.
  • Teaching method: Three short lectures and three tutorials
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 3: Work and well-being

  • EC: 3
  • Content: This module addresses the following main questions:    
    • How do income and wealth influence happiness?
    • How do labor market choices (self-employment, part-time employment, etc.) influence happiness?
    • How do various job characteristics influence employee well-being?
    • How to improve employee well-being?
  • Teaching method: Five interactive lectures. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 4: Health and well-being

  • EC: 3
  • 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: Four lectures
  • Teaching materials: Scientific articles. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 5: Society and well-being

  • EC: 3
  • Content:  This module addresses the following main questions:
    • How do various societal aspects—including cultural differences, public institutions, the living environment, social unrest, inequalities, and social capital— affect well-being?
    • Are the current practices and developments regarding these societal aspects conducive to a happy society?
    • How to achieve a happier society?
  • Teaching method: Four interactive lectures.
  • Teaching materials: Scientific articles, popular articles, and videos. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Overview content per week


Week 1-2:            Meetings Module 1
Week 3:                Meetings Module 2
Week 5:                Meetings Module 3
Week 7:                Meetings Module 4
Week 9:                Meetings Module 5


End of week 2:   Take-Home Exam Module 1
End of week 4:   Deadline individual assignment Module 2
End of week 6:   Oral presentations Module 3
Week 8:               Written exam Module 4
End of week 10: Deadline group assignment Module 5


Method of examination

Module 1 “Well-being: An introduction
Take-Home Exam (four open questions)

Module 2 “Empirical analyses of Well-being
Individual assignment. In this assignment, students conduct empirical analyses on well-being related research questions and describe their findings in a research report. Students can select their topic of interest from a list of three topics.

Module 3 “Work and Well-being
Pitch (oral presentation). In this group assignment, students work on a business case related to employee well-being.

Module 4 “Health and Well-being
Written Exam (multiple choice and open questions)

Module 5 “Society and Well-being
Individual Assignment (essay about a well-being related societal issue). Bonus points can be earned in lectures through case studies.

Composition final grade
The final grade of the minor is the weighted average of the four or five modules. An average grade of 5.5 is sufficient to pass the minor. 75-80% of the course grade is based on individual assessments, and an individual adjustment based on peer evaluations is applied in the group assessment.

General feedback or personalized feedback upon request will be provided for all assessments. Students can always make an appointment with the lecturers for extra feedback.

Frequently asked questions


Contact information

Dr. Martijn Hendriks
010  4089734
room M5-39

Faculty website


Verbredende minor
FEB53113 and FEB53113M
10 weken
Erasmus School of Economics
Studiepunten (EC)
Campus Woudestein


Please read the application procedure for more information. 

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