The Origins of Happiness: The Science of Well-Being over the Life Course

Andrew E. Clark, Sarah Flèche, Richard Layard, Nattavudh Powdthavee, and George Ward

Princeton University Press


"Rooted in the best-available evidence for each stage in life, The Origins of Happiness provides an ambitious and comprehensive analysis of what leads to a satisfying life, from childhood to old age."Alan Krueger, Princeton University

"The Origins of Happiness is a wonderful book. It presents a new look at what causes human well-being, and carefully analyzes the policies and programs that can enhance it."Ed Diener, coauthor of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth

"If policymakers want to improve lives, it is important to understand how people feel―and why. This book charts new territory, providing the first map of the long-term drivers of people's happiness."Martine Durand, chief statistician, OECD

"This work is a must-read for the academic, policymaker, and informed citizen alike."―Carol Graham, author of Happiness for All?


What makes people happy? Why should governments care about people’s well-being? How would policy change if well-being were the main objective? The Origins of Happiness seeks to revolutionize how we think about human priorities and to promote public policy changes that are based on what really matters to people. Drawing on a uniquely comprehensive range of evidence from longitudinal data on over one hundred thousand individuals in Britain, the United States, Australia, and Germany, the authors consider the key factors that affect human well-being. Groundbreaking in its scope and results, The Origins of Happiness offers all of us a new vision for how we might become more healthy, happy, and whole.

[Read the Introduction][PUP] [vox column] [WHR summary] [online appendix] [replication files][jstor version]

Selected Media

Financial Times, FT Editorial, Guardian, Independent, BBC News, Business Insider, Newsweek, HuffPost, Vice, Le Figaro, Folha de S Paolo, WBUR, Telegraph, Vanity Fair, Grazia, The Conversation (op-ed)