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How to continue this World Database of Happiness: Either as a whole or parts of it


This database will be continued in its present form as long as I am able to, which will not be for long, given my age (81) and health condition (cancer). When I close this archive for further additions, its Bibliography will then be complete up to 2020 and hold some 18.000 publications. The archive will hold about 50.000 standardized descriptions of research findings, completeness differing across subjects.

The archive as I leave it will be saved as World Database of Happiness; Version 1. That first version will be stored in the Library of Erasmus University Rotterdam and be kept available on the internet. Continued availability of this last version under my responsibility will be supported by the Foundation for the Study of Happiness.

Colleague scientists can build on this findings archive in two ways: continuation of the database as a whole or prolongation of parts of it.

Continue this World Database of Happiness as-a-whole

Required investment
Continuation of this project will require an investment of minimally 3 full time equivalents (fte) per year. Greater investment will be required when the research output on happiness keeps growing and the aim of complete coverage is maintained. Considerable scientific expertise is required on concepts used in the different social sciences and on methods of statistical analysis.

I ran this database with the help of many volunteers, free facilities of Erasmus University, an incidental grant and considerable support from the Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization. I did not succeed in obtaining structural funding for this project from research support agencies. In my time it was easier to raise money for new primary research than for organizing the many findings that are available already. Possibly, chances for the funding of research synthesis will be better in your time.

I was not successful either in getting business organizations sponsor the charting the effects of their products on the happiness of their customers. For example, the pension funds I approached were not willing to pay for gathering the available research on happiness among pensioners. Possibly, chances for sponsoring will get better when the trend to evidence based marketing holds on.
 An option for raising money not fully tried out is having researchers pay for the entry of their findings in the archive. Now that the World Database of Happiness is well established and increasingly used in synthetic papers, this will provide researchers with an additional shop window to present their work and better chance to get cited.

Part of the work can be shared with research associates, who bring in their own time and assistance. Associates are typically willing to invest if that results in joint publications.

Foreseeable yields
Continuing the World Database of Happiness as a whole will provide you a central position in this research field. The work will keep you updated on all developments on happiness research, more than colleagues working on a particular topic.

The archive provides ample opportunities for publication, such as research syntheses on subjects for which sufficient findings has been entered in the archive. See my papers of that kind published together with research associates.

Continue parts of the database

You can also opt to limit to maintaining parts of the database which you can manage on your own or for which more funding is available.

Illustrative options:

Continue the bibliography: limiting to the gathering of publications.

This requires that 1) you keep track of the research literature on subjective wellbeing, 2) select publications on happiness as defined here, 3) classify the main subjects addressed and, preferably, 4) whether the publication reports an empirical study in which an acceptable measure of happiness was used.

Perpetuation of the Bibliography in that way would lay a basis for eventual later continuation of the World Database of Happiness as a whole and would be extremely helpful for the accumulation of knowledge on happiness anyway which would otherwise be smothered in the confusion of tongues that haunts the social sciences and this subject in particular.

For you personally, this work would keep you up-to-date on this subject and provide a basis for literature reviews.

Restrict to Distributional findings

Continue the statistics of level and inequality of happiness (means and standard deviations) in populations. Some options are

  • Continue the collection of Happiness in Nations
    This requires that you gather the new findings on happiness obtained in probability samples of the general population in nations. The system will generate rank reports on that basis and you can also update trend reports on happiness in nations.
              Understanding of the observed differences in ranking and trends will be facilitated if you also maintain the datafiles States of Nations and Trends in Nations. Understanding will also benefit from maintenance of the collection of observed correlations between happiness and nation characteristics, e.g. Nation: Economy
  • Develop a collection of Happiness in Regions
    The archive holds some 4400 findings on the distribution of happiness in areas other than nations, such as provinces, cities and transnational regions. These findings are not yet organized as well as the data on happiness in nations, but that can easily be achieved.
              A collection of findings on happiness in regions will open the way for a more systematic analysis of regional differences and trends than possible on basis of the now available single studies. Understanding even more advanced when combined when this is combined with the putting together of a dataset on regional characteristics similar to the above-mentioned datasets of states of nations and trends in nations. In this context, it is also advisable to maintain the collection of correlational findings on happiness and regional characteristics, e.g. Region: Economy.
  • Continue a collection of Happiness in Special Publics. 
    For example continue the collection of Happiness in the Elderly people. Currently, the archive holds 224 findings on happiness in the third age, which allow identification of differences across places and time. Understanding will be furthered by combination with observed correlations in this age group.

Restrict to a particular Correlate of happiness

For example, restrict to findings on the relation between happiness and income or effects of policy interventions on happiness. This requires that you update the available collection of correlational findings on such subject, which you will typically do to prepare for a research synthesis on that matter. Updating the collection continuously, you lay a basis for periodical progress reports.

For an overview of correlate subjects and the number of findings in  these look on chart 5/2.1 in chapter 5 of the Introductory text to the to the collection of correlational findings Classification by Correlate subject.

The option are discussed in more detail in the document How to continue on version 1 of this World Database of Happiness