The World Database of Happiness is an archive of research findings on the subjective enjoyment of one’s life-as-a-whole. It brings together findings that are scattered throughout many studies and provides a basis for research synthesis.

Conceptual focus

This database is about the subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole. This concept is spelled out in more detail in Chapter 2 of the Introductory text to the Bibliography of Happiness: Concept of Happiness. Though usually called ‘happiness’, this matter is also denoted by different names, such as ‘life satisfaction’ and ‘subjective well-being’ (SWB).


Finding pages
The building blocks of the database are electronic pages, which contain standardized descriptions of either a scientific publication on happiness, a measure of happiness used in an empirical investigation or a research finding on happiness. Pages are gathered in collections, pages on which a publication is described are stored in the Bibliography of Happiness, pages on which a measure of happiness is described are gathered in the collection Measures of Happiness and pages on which a research findings is described in the finding collections; the collection of Distributional findings and/or Correlational findings. Various reports are selected from these collections. A schematic overview of these elements is found here.

Electronic pages are gathered in collections, the interconnections of which are visualized in the flow chart on the start page of this site.

Happiness Bibliography
This collection covers all contemporary scientific publications on happiness in the sense of subjective enjoyment of life and contains a detailed subject classification. The bibliography can be browsed by first author, subject, and title. The related Directory of Happiness Investigators provides links to their publications and can be sorted on country and year.

Measures of Happiness
This collection covers all measures that passed a test for fit with the concept of happiness, as the subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole. Most of the measures are single questions. For each question it presents the full text and links to studies that used the measure. Measures are classified by focus, time reference, mode of observation, rating, and wording.

Distributional Findings on Happiness
A collection of research findings on how happy people are in particular places, times and publics. Allows comparison over time and across nations.

Correlational Findings on Happiness
Presents abstracts of correlational research findings. Detailed subject classification. Allows comparison over time and across nations.

This database contains structured selections from the above collections, among which several selections of research findings, such as the finding reports on Happiness in Nations.

Related sources
The data sets States of Nations and Trends in Nations combine nation level data on happiness from the above collections combined with background information on nations, such as economic development and economic growth.

Finding Archive Technique

Further reading

To read more about the World Database of Happiness, click ‘Reasons for this database‘. The World Database of Happiness is described in more detail in the following papers: