Online Resources

Reports and Publications

World Happiness Report 2021

The World Happiness Report 2021 focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared. Our aim was two-fold, first to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and second to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, we try to explain why some countries have done so much better than others.

Click here to download the entire report.

2017 Index of Economic Freedom

Economic freedom is a critical element of human well-being and a vital linchpin in sustaining a free civil society. As Friedrich A. Hayek foresaw decades ago, "The guiding principle in any attempt to create a world of free men must be this: a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy." Indeed, the best path to prosperity is the path of freedom: letting individuals decide for themselves how best to achieve their dreams and aspirations and those of their families. It is that path whose course is charted in the Index of Economic Freedom.

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If, Why, and When Subjective Well-Being Influences Health, and Future Needed Research

We review evidence on whether subjective well-being (SWB) can influence health, why it might do so, and what we know about the conditions where this is more or less likely to occur. This review also explores how various methodological approaches inform the study of the connections between subjective well-being and health and longevity outcomes. Our review of this growing literature indicates areas where data are substantial and where much more research is needed. We conclude that SWB can sometimes influence health, and review a number of reasons why it does so. A key open question is when it does and does not do so – in terms of populations likely to be affected, types of SWB that are most influential (including which might be harmful), and types of health and illnesses that are most likely to be affected. We also describe additional types of research that are now much needed in this burgeoning area of interest, for example, cross-cultural studies, animal research, and experimental interventions designed to raise long-term SWB and assess the effects on physical health. This research area is characterized both by potentially extremely important findings, and also by pivotal research issues and questions.

Click here to download the entire report.

Positive Balance

authored by M. Joseph Sirgy and published by Springer

The book provides a new theory of well-being designed to integrate many disparate concepts of well-being, such as subjective well-being, personal happiness, mental well-being, emotional well-being, psychological well-being, hedonic well-being, social well-being, life satisfaction, domain satisfaction, and eudaimonia. It lays the foundation for a new a theory of mental well-being based on a hierarchical perspective of positive mental health and guided by the concept of positive balance.

Written by a well-known expert in the field, this book addresses the issue of positive balance related to physiological, emotional, cognitive, meta-cognitive, developmental and social-ecological levels of an individual and analyses the factors at each level that contribute to an individual’s positive mental health experience. It discusses in detail the effects of neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, or cortisol; positive and negative affect; satisfaction in salient and multiple life domains vis-à-vis dissatisfaction in life domains; positive versus negative evaluations about one’s life using certain standards of comparison; positive psychological traits of personal growth and intrinsic motivation, etc. vis-à-vis negative traits like pessimism and impulsiveness; and perceived social resources like social contribution and social actualization vis-à-vis perceived constraints like exclusion and ostracism. This original work is of interest to students, researchers and practitioners of quality of life and wellbeing studies, positive psychology, developmental psychology and mental health.

Advances in Well-Being

authored by Richard J. Estes and M. Joseph Sirgy and published by Rowman & Littlefield International Publishers in London

Media and research tend to focus on social problems in today’s world from terrorism and natural disasters to environmental degradation, conflict, and economic decline. Yet many countries are also placing the promotion of well-being at the heart of their social agenda. So what can we say about human progress and the development of civilization? This book considers the brighter side of our world today by exploring the ways in which well-being is on an upward swing globally.

Systematically considering indicators of human well-being in terms of economics, health, and education, alongside subjective notions of well-being, the book draws together research and data from around the world. It uses the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index as an underlying framework from which to examine the ways in which well-being has improved since WWII. Analyzing leading scholarship and empirical work allows the authors to determine policy recommendations for how we might continue to build a better world of human well-being.

2016 UNDP Human Development Report: Policies for human development

Christina Lengfelder

The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) distinguishes itself from other flagship reports on development in the sense that it is based on an innovative concept that defines development as the expansion of choices by enhancing capabilities. This paper analyses to what extent this innovative concept is reflected in the policy options suggested by the reports, and whether it makes a difference for the direction the suggestions take. The purpose of the analysis is to understand how conceptual work on development influences policy advice, which is the foundation for action to achieve development objectives such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Combatting Jihadist Terrorism through Nation-Building

This book focuses on the drivers of Jihadist terrorism and explains how a better understanding of these drivers can lead to more effective counterterrorism policies all over the world. It builds on results of the extensive body of quality of life studies to document the historical, geo-political, economic, religious, cultural and media drivers of Jihadist terrorism. Guided by a major theme this book shows that the significant gains we have made in combatting Jihadist terrorism are not enough, but that we need to embrace a much broader and comprehensive view of the antecedents and the sustaining enablers of this threat to help guide any sustainable efforts. It proposes interventions designed to effectively treat the causes of this insidious disease. This book is of great interest to new media, policy makers concerned about national security as well as people and academic scholars whose research interest involves conflict and conflict resolution, religious studies, terrorism and counterterrorism, Islamic history, and Islamic geo-politics.

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World Happiness Report 2020

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and digs more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness.

Click here to download the entire report.

World Happiness Report 2019

This is the 7th World Happiness Report. The first was released in April 2012 in support of a UN High level meeting on “Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. That report presented the available global data on national happiness and reviewed related evidence from the emerging science of happiness, showing that the quality of people’s lives can be coherently, reliably, and validly assessed by a variety of subjective well-being measures, collectively referred to then and in subsequent reports as “happiness.” Each report includes updated evaluations and a range of commissioned chapters on special topics digging deeper into the science of well-being, and on happiness in specific countries and regions. Often there is a central theme. This year we focus on happiness and community: how happiness has been changing over the past dozen years, and how information technology, governance and social norms influence communities.

Click here to download the entire report.

State of Global Well-Being

Gallup Healthways Global Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index (Global Well-Being Index) is a global barometer of individuals’ perceptions of their own well-being — those aspects that define how we think about and experience our daily lives. Well-being has been shown to correlate with metrics such as productivity and healthcare costs.

The 10 questions that comprise the Global Well-Being Index and were fielded as part of the 2013 Gallup World Poll allow for comparisons of element-level well-being at the individual, social network, organizational (e.g., employer, health plan, patient population), city, state, country, and global levels. The index includes five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

Click here to download the entire report.

State of American Well-Being

Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index

In addition to the global well-being index, Gallup has an American Healthways Well-being Index. State and selected community rankings are available.

Click here to download the state rankings.
Click here to download the community rankings.

Total Rewards and Employee Well-Being


Employers more and more are depending on health and wellness initiatives to build and foster a successful and productive workforce. This survey was conducted to identify traditional wellness plans and new trends in employee well-being. The objective was to gauge how many programs and initiatives organizations offered and how those offerings are expanding to include a more integrated well-being approach beyond one that is just health-related.

As health-care costs have risen dramatically during the past decade, U.S. employers have had little choice but to pay attention to the collective health of their employee population. The simple fact is that physically healthy workers are more productive and resilient, and don’t incur the myriad costs associated with physically unhealthy workers. During the past decade, many employers have implemented so-called wellness programs. By definition, these programs have typically provided a reward based on an individual employee’s ability to meet a specific standard for health promotion or disease prevention. At-work weight loss, exercise and disease management programs have become popular offerings in many organizations because of the multiple positive effects they can bring – to both the employee and the employer.

Today, the body of knowledge regarding wellness is evolving into a broader concept that includes but goes beyond simple physical health, to treating the whole individual. This integrated "well-being" approach typically includes several components:

  • physical health (enhancing one’s physical fitness);
  • mental/emotional health (resources to balance one’s self, situations and others);
  • financial health (tools to attain financial freedom and success);
  • and spiritual health (defined as one’s strong sense of self or purpose through beliefs, principles, values and ethical judgments)

In addition to testing the broad concept of well-being, we also were interested in finding out if organizations strategized about their well-being programs and initiatives, whether they focused on manager support and how well-being was incorporated into their communication strategy and the culture of their organization. What we found was that all roads can lead to well-being; thinking in broader terms of what well-being should be and how it can be achieved reaps rewards for both employees and employers.

Click here to download the entire report.

Social Progress Index

Social Progress Imperative

The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the quality of lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress. The Social Progress Index provides a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool to guide countries’ choices to enable greater social progress and foster research and knowledge-sharing on the policies and investments that will best achieve that goal. Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.

Click here to view the website.

How's Life? Measuring Well-Being

OECD Better Life Initiative

On the occasion of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary, held under the theme "Better Policies for Better Lives", the Organization launched the OECD Better Life Initiative. How’s Life?, which is part of this initiative, provides a concrete response to some of the issues. Building on almost ten years of OECD work on progress, How’s Life? is a first attempt at the international level to go beyond the conceptual stage and to present a large set of comparable well-being indicators for OECD countries and, to the extent possible, other major economies. This set is still exploratory and will, over the years, be improved by taking into account the outcomes of a number of methodological projects at the OECD and elsewhere as these deliver their results and lead to better measures. Nonetheless, this work is critical, as broad-based, international evidence is provided for the first time on a range of aspects of well-being. The report aims to respond to the needs of citizens for better information on well-being and to give a more accurate picture of societal progress to policy-makers.

Click here to download the report in its entirety.

Society at a Glance 2014

OECD Social Indicators

More than five years on from the financial crisis, high rates of joblessness and income losses are worsening social conditions in many OECD countries. The capacity of governments to meet these challenges is constrained by fiscal consolidation. However, cuts in social spending risk adding to the hardship of the most vulnerable groups and could create problems for the future. OECD countries can effectively meet these challenges only with policies that are well designed and backed by adequate resources. Having been spared the worst impacts of the crisis, major emerging economies face different challenges. However, the experience of OECD countries is relevant for emerging economies as they continue to build and "crisis-proof" their social protection systems.

Click here to download the report.

Human Development Report 2013


The 2013 Human Development Report is the latest in the series of global Human Development Reports published by UNDP since 1990 as independent, empirically grounded analyses of major development issues, trends and policies.

Additional resources related to the 2013 Human Development Report can be found online at, including complete editions or summaries of the Report in more than 20 languages, a collection of Human Development Research Papers commissioned for the 2013 Report, interactive maps and databases of national human development indicators, full explanations of the sources and methodologies employed in the Report’s human development indices, country profiles and other background materials as well as previous global, regional and national Human Development Reports.

Click here to download the report.

State of the World 2013 is Sustainability Still Possible?

The Worldwatch Institute

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World Development Report 2013

The World Bank

Today, jobs are a critical concern across the globe—for policy makers, the business community, and the billions of men and women striving to provide for their families.

As the world struggles to emerge from the global crisis, some 200 million people—including 75 million under the age of 25—are unemployed. Many millions more, most of them women, find themselves shut out of the labor force altogether. Looking forward, over the next 15 years an additional 600 million new jobs will be needed to absorb burgeoning working-age populations, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, almost half of all workers in developing countries are engaged in small-scale farming or self-employment, jobs that typically do not come with a steady paycheck and benefits. The problem for most poor people in these countries is not the lack of a job or too few hours of work; many hold more than one job and work long hours. Yet, too often, they are not earning enough to secure a better future for themselves and their children, and at times they are working in unsafe conditions and without the protection of their basic rights.

Jobs are instrumental to achieving economic and social development. Beyond their critical importance for individual well-being, they lie at the heart of many broader societal objectives, such as poverty reduction, economy-wide productivity growth, and social cohesion. The development payoffs from jobs include acquiring skills, empowering women, and stabilizing post-conflict societies. Jobs that contribute to these broader goals are valuable not only for those who hold them but for society as a whole: they are good jobs for development.

The World Development Report 2013 takes the centrality of jobs in the development process as its starting point and challenges and reframes how we think about work. Adopting a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach, the Report looks at why some jobs do more for development than others. The Report finds that the jobs with the greatest development payoffs are those that make cities function better, connect the economy to global markets, protect the environment, foster trust and civic engagement, or reduce poverty. Critically, these jobs are not only found in the formal sector; depending on the country context, informal jobs can also be transformational.

Click here to download the report (warning: large file, may take several minutes to download).