The World Database is based in the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization, which is part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The project was started in 1980 at the Department of Sociology at Erasmus University. The first product was a voluminous Databook of Happiness that was published in 1984 together with the book Conditions of Happiness. Printed updates appeared in books in 1992, 1993 and 1994. The collection was made available on the web in 1998 and the website has continued to evolve since. In 2012 the project moved to its present home, the newly established interdisciplinary Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization EHERO.

Offices and equipment and IT support are provided by Erasmus University Rotterdam. The personal consists partly of regular staff of Erasmus University and partly of volunteers, many of whom are retired academics who invest time and expertise in this project. See the home team.
Additional personal is paid for from incidental grants, including a generous grant from the Dutch Science Foundation NWO over the years 2003-2011. The project also depends on donations. Donations can be made to a special Support Fund for the World Database of Happiness that is administered by Erasmus University’s Trustfund and supervised by the Foundation for the Study of Happiness. The sponsoring of particular parts of the database became possible in 2018.

The database is hosted at the IT department of Erasmus University Rotterdam. A copy is held at the University Library

Though based at Erasmus University Rotterdam, the project is open to participants from elsewhere. A more Wiki-like structure is being developed, which colleague scientists can use to keep parts of this findings archive up to date. See Associated Researchers

Copyright: Open source
Ruut Veenhoven is the present owner of the copyright on the data system and the data collection and this will hold during his lifetime. It is his wish that these sources remain available free after his death.
A copy of the latest version of the database made under his direction will be deposited in the Library of Erasmus University Rotterdam. The copy will be filed in the electronic repository of the university library (RePub), both as a database and as a collection of text files. The latest version will also remain directly available on the internet.
These copies will be available free to scientists who want continue the collection as a whole or to continue a part of it. The only condition placed on future users will be that the use of the last version of the database is clearly acknowledged in a citation and a link to the latest copy of the World Database of Happiness on the internet is made
The Foundation for the Study of Happiness is mandated to overview the availability of the last version of the World Database of Happiness left by Ruut Veenhoven and continuation of the data gathering. The foundation is mandated to take action when necessary. If addition to the database begins to stagnate, the Foundation will bring this fact to the attention of potentially interested scientists and appropriate scientific bodies, using either its own resourses or a grant from the Support Fund for the World Database of Happiness. Interested scholars can contact the foundation for information and advice.