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ECO3035 : Happiness Economics

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tom Lane
  • Owning School: Newcastle University Business School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module aims to explore the study of happiness within economics. The discipline of economics has always been intensely interested in human wellbeing, but traditionally investigated it indirectly. Starting from the 1970s, there has been the emergence of a field known as happiness economics, which attempts to directly measure happiness – mostly through self-reported ‘subjective wellbeing’ – and identify the (economic) factors which influence it or are influenced by it. The module covers important findings and debates from this field.

The module has both a scientific and philosophical flavour. Measuring happiness is challenging and even its definition is subject to debate. We will scrutinise debates surrounding these issues, focusing closely on hard evidence about whether happiness can really be measured, and considering the circumstances under which such measurements are likely to be more or less reliable. Our exploration of the empirics of happiness will cover both macro- and microeconomic topics, and provide students with the opportunity to closely attend to statistical evidence.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics:

Topic 1: What is happiness and why does/should economics care about it? The relationship between happiness and utility.

Topic 2: Controversies in the study of happiness – can happiness be reliably measured, and how?

Topic 3: How does happiness relate to macroeconomic variables?

Topic 4: How does happiness relate to individual variables? Hedonic adaptation, economic choices and mistakes.

Topic 5: Happiness in the workplace.

Topic 6: Happiness and government policy.

Seminar topics:

Seminar 1: Methodological discussion of the Day Reconstruction Method.
Seminar 2: The causes of teenage unhappiness and suicide in the 2010s.
Seminar 3: The World Happiness Report.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study182:0082:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide the key course material, supporting knowledge outcomes 1-4 and skills outcomes 1-3. The recommended readings cover additional material, supporting all of the above in addition to skills outcome 4. The small group teaching provides further material and exercises, thereby also supporting knowledge outcomes 1-4 and skills outcomes 1-3, and – by its interactive nature – furthermore supports skills outcome 5.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A100N/A
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MStudents are allowed to submit an answer and receive feedback on one practice exam question.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam aims to test students’ depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding of the findings and debates covered in the course. It also aims to test their ability to think critically, interpret statistical analyses and communicate effectively using discipline-specific language.

Reading Lists