In December 2021, members of the World Wellbeing Panel were asked for their views on two statements relating to the recently formulated concept of WELLBYs. As defined by the UK Treasury: “A WELLBY equates to a one-point change in life satisfaction on a 0-10 scale, per person per year.”1 It is related to the concept of Happiness Adjusted Life Years (HALYs)2, also called Happy Life Years, or Happy life-expectancy, for which time series exist.3 

The two statements were as follows:

(i) "The WELLBY cost-benefit methodology will soon become a standard tool for policy development and evaluations in the state bureaucracy of most OECD countries"; and

(ii) "The WELLBY cost-benefit methodology as it is now adopted by the UK and New Zealand bureaucracy will give a greater weight to mental health, social relations, and the environment in cost-benefit calculations than the classic economic methods it replaces."

16 of the World Wellbeing Panelists responded. Their answers and comments appear below:

1 See: HM Treasury. 2021. Wellbeing Guidance for Appraisal: Supplementary Green Book Guidance. Also see: De Neve J-E, Clark A, Krekel C, Layard R, O’Donnell G. 2020. "Taking a wellbeing years approach to policy choice." BMJ 2020; 371:m3853.

2 See: Veenhoven R. 1996. "Happy life-expectancy. A comprehensive measure of quality-of-life in nations." Social Indicators Research, 39, 1-58.

3 See: Data Trend Happy Life-Years in Nations

List of respondents to this survey

About the World Wellbeing Panel