The Happier Lives Institute is a nonprofit research organisation searching for the most effective ways to measure and increase global wellbeing.
The pursuit of happiness as the goal of life is a very old idea, but it’s only in recent decades that academics have developed valid and reliable ways to measure wellbeing through self-reports. Now, for the first time in human history, we can work out the best ways to improve global happiness in a scientifically rigorous way.
Happier Lives Institute’s approach is driven by three beliefs:
The Happier Lives Institute was set up to answer this question: “What are the most effective ways we can use our resources to make others happier?”
Drawing on and developing previous work in the fields of philosophy, economics, and psychology, HLI conducts both:
To identify where additional resources can do the most good, HLI follows a three-stage process:
HLI compares these interventions and charities using a universal metric called wellbeing-adjusted life years (WELLBYs). One WELLBY is equivalent to a 1-point increase on a 0-10 life satisfaction scale for one year. Unlike measures of health or wealth, WELLBYs capture the overall benefit people receive from an intervention, which allows HLI to make apples-to-apples comparisons between interventions that impact different outcomes.
So far, HLI has evaluated four promising interventions using WELLBYs (with a focus on low-income countries to improve cost-effectiveness): cash transfers, group psychotherapy, deworming pills, and antimalarial bednets.
HLI has plans to evaluate more interventions and charities in terms of their impact on subjective wellbeing in 2023 and beyond — see its research agenda for more.
We looked into HLI as part of our 2023 evaluator research but decided not to continue with the evaluation because we “thought the costs of finalising the evaluation outweighed the potential benefits at this stage.” Please see our HLI report for more details.