Is happiness measurable and what do those measures mean for policy?


International Conference

Is happiness measurable and what do those measures mean for policy?

Rome, 2-3 April 2007
University of Rome “Tor Vergata”

Conference background

Recent advances in the study of happiness and life satisfaction have opened new perspectives. We are, it seems, much closer to measuring how happy people are, as well as understanding more clearly other aspects of their subjective well-being. These advances, so some would argue, open the door to different paradigms for policy-making: paradigms, for instance, which see people’s happiness, rather than national income, as the goal that policy-makers seek to maximise. But while these ideas have generated much interest, and gathered considerable support, many sceptics remain.


This conference will provide a platform to debate these issues. Presentations and papers will follow three broad topics:

  1. Methodological issues in the measurement of happiness and life satisfaction: Can we construct meaningful statistical indicators of happiness and life satisfaction? Is it useful to think of life happiness as some overarching uni-dimensional concept; or is it better to think separately about how happy people are with their work, their relationships, and so on?
  2. The determinants of happiness: What do we know about the factors determining happiness and what don’t we know? How do education and other areas of government policy contribute to happiness?
  3. Measures of happiness and policy: Can subjective well-being indicators help shape policy? And what does satisfaction with different domains of life imply for policy-making?
   Draft agenda


Conclusions of the Happiness Conference:


The conference will be jointly organised by the OECD, the Bank of Italy, the Centre for Economic and International Studies (CEIS) of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.

The members of the scientific committee are:

  • Luigi Paganetto (Dean, Faculty of Economics, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”)
  • Leonardo Becchetti (Faculty of Economics, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”)
  • Enrico Giovannini (Chief Statistician, OECD)
  • Giovanni D’Alessio (Head of the Sample Surveys and Statistical Methods Division, Bank of Italy)
  • Andrea Saltelli (Joint Research Centre, European Commission)


The conference is hosted by the Faculty of Economics of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” (Sala del Consiglio - Building B - 2nd Floor). The Faculty is situated in the south-east side of Rome, just outside the “Grande Raccordo Anulare”, which is a circular motorway around the city. It can be reached by public transport or by car. For using public transport your first destiny is the “Anagnina stop” of line A from the underground. Once you have reached this stop you should take bus Number 20 EXPRESS and it will take you to VIA CAMBRIDGE, where the stop to the Faculty is. This bus is operative from 5:30 am to 11:44 pm, every 10 minutes all day long, from and to the Anagnina Stop. Click here for a map to the Faculty. You may also want to check out the information on Conference hotels and a Map of the Rome metro.

Other background documents

Additional information

For more information and/or requests to attend please contact us by e-mail (contact persons: Anne Griffoin and André van Hoorn, Tel.: +(33-1) 45 24 76 57).



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