Minor Quality of Life and Happiness Economics

Broadening minor
FEB53113 and FEB53113M


In this course, 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? 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, including insights from applied economics (particularly happiness economics and health economics), business economics, psychology, and sociology. We will read scientific literature and watch videos from top researchers and discuss these in the interactive lectures. In addition, you will conduct own empirical analyses to explore the topic of quality of life. The graded assessments are mostly individual assignments that are oriented on testing your understanding of and ability to critically reflect on the course material and your ability to develop interventions to improve quality of life. 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.

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.

Learning objectives

  • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various conceptualizations and measures of quality of life and happiness using appropriate arguments.
  • illustrate how people’s happiness influences their behaviour and achievements by applying appropriate empirical evidence and theories.
  • critically reflect on lay beliefs, contemporary theories, and empirical analyses on quality of life and happiness using appropriate arguments.
  • develop strategies and policies that improve quality of life and happiness by applying appropriate empirical evidence and theories.
  • conduct an empirical study on people’s quality of life and happiness using basic statistical techniques in STATA.

Special aspects

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). We encourage both students with an economic and non-economic background to participate in this minor. Students are expected to have a genuine interest in economic, sociological, psychological, and epidemiological approaches to quality of life and happiness. 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. No course material has to be purchased for this course (i.e., no textbooks); the reading material will be provided by the lectures after the start of the course. 

Overview modules

Module 1: Quality of life: An introduction

  • ECTS: 3
  • 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?

    The Module ends with a seminar in which students practice with a mock exam.
  • Teaching method:Seminars and lectures (6 in total)
  • Teaching materials:  Scientific articles, videos, and online surveys. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 2: Empirical analyses of quality of life

  • ECTS: 3
  • 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 methods:Three tutorial
  • Teaching materials: Assignments
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 3: Quality of life and work

  • ECTS: 3
  • 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 methods: Seminars and lectures (5 in total).
  • Teaching materials:  Scientific articles and videos. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 4: Quality of life and health

  • ECTS: 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 and a practical
  • Teaching materials:  Scientific articles. 
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Module 5: Quality of life and society (only for non-ESE students)

  • ECTS: 3
  • Content:  This module addresses the following main questions:
    - How do various contemporary societal issues and developments
    including 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: Six seminars
  • Teaching materials: Scientific articles, videos, and factual information from intergovernmental organizations.
  • Contact hours: 6-8 hours per week
  • Self study: 24-26 hours per week

Overview content per week


Week 1-3:            Meetings Module 1+2
Week 4-5:            Meetings Module 3

Week 6-7:            Meetings Module 4

Week 9:                Meetings Module 5


End of week 3:   Take-Home Exam Module 1

End of week 5:   Deadline individual assignment Module 2

End of week 7:   Deadline individual assignment Module 3

Week 8:                Written exam Module 4

End of week 10: Deadline group assignment Module 5


Method of examination

Module 1 “Quality of life: An introduction
Take-Home Exam (four open questions)

Module 2 “
Empirical analyses of quality of life
Individual assignment + three small quizzes for bonus points. In this assignment, students write a short research article in which they theoretically and empirically explore a research question. Students can select their topic of interest from a list of topics.

Module 3 “Quality of Life and Work
Individual Assignment. In this assignment, students work on a business case in which they address a real-world and employee well-being related issue faced by a company. Students develop an intervention and propose a method to test the effectiveness of the intervention.

Module 4 “Quality of Life and Health”
Written Exam (multiple choice and open questions)

Module 5 “Quality of Life and Society”:
Group Assignment (students make a small video documentary on a societal issue related to quality of life)

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. For ESE-students, 100% of the course grade is based on individual assessments. For non-ESE students, 80% of the course grade is based on individual assessments and 20% is based on a group assignment.

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.

Contact information

Dr. Martijn Hendriks
010  4089734
room M5-39

Faculty website

Broadening minor
FEB53113 and FEB53113M
Erasmus School of Economics
Studiepunten (ECTS)
Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam


Please read the application procedure for more information.