Sweden poised to lead the way in wellbeing and happiness research

Sweden poised to lead the way in wellbeing and happiness research

Published 05/25/2024 - Individuals with high self-reported levels of happiness live longer, get sick less frequently and are more productive. In a world of increasing uncertainty and societal as well as economic turmoil, how do we move towards a world that sees the value in wellbeing? The Center for Wellbeing, Welfare, and Happiness is spearheading the drive for a happier and more prosperous world.

The research at the new Center, on one hand, revolves around a good life: How we can achieve the highest possible quality of life and make the most of our lives both mentally and physically? What contributes to our wellbeing and what are the resulting effects? This includes how we use our time, how we work, what motivates us, or societal changes. On the other hand, the research focuses on what constitutes a healthy economy: How do companies and society contribute to people's welfare? What really constitutes welfare, and what impact do societal efforts, priorities, and methods of organizing companies have on us as individuals?

Happiness as an asset

Researching these important subjects is also an important factor in turning the trend of rising numbers of mental health conditions worldwide. Currently, the global community is losing millions of healthy, happy, and productive years, and, according to the WHO and Harvard researchers, the losses to the global economy are in the trillion-dollar range – every year. Addressing the causes and promoting wellness at the center of our society will mean significant gains for both individuals, organizations and society at large.

"This initiative marks a significant milestone, not just for SSE, but also signifies a powerful commitment to global prosperity. Through our research, we want to contribute to reshaping society. We aspire to empower decision-makers, businesses, and the public alike to foster a more prosperous, resilient, and fulfilling world for all," says Lars Strannegård, President of the Stockholm School of Economics.

First professorship of its kind

In conjunction with the launch of the new center, the Stockholm School of Economics has also established a new professorship dedicated to wellbeing, welfare, and happiness – the first of its kind at a business school. The recipient of the professorship is renowned economist and happiness researcher Micael Dahlen, who will also head the new center. Throughout his career, Micael Dahlen has combined his passion for economics with a deep empathy for the human condition. He is also the author of several books on a science-based approach to happiness and wellness, asking the question: How can we make the most of our human nature, build better organizations and, above all else, live better lives?

“I look forward to playing my part in contributing to our wellbeing, both as individuals and as a society. This is truly the beating heart of economics,” says Micael Dahlen.

The new research center aims to establish a closer connection between research, decision-making, and practice. The goal is for research to contribute to the foundation for future policymaking, guide companies in implementing health-promoting measures that can enhance both productivity and profitability, and, not least, make important research findings accessible to the public.

International expertise

The center will also invite world-leading thought leaders and researchers to Stockholm to jointly develop solutions for the challenges we face. This exchange of international expertise will broaden perspectives and strengthen research collaboration.

The initiative is welcomed by the Swedish government. Jakob Forssmed, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, says:

"Initiatives like this, researching what produces wellbeing and good mental health, are very welcome. Through cooperation between research, decision-making, and practice, we are improving the conditions for shaping a better future for people and promoting mental health," says Jakob Forssmed.

The establishment of the center and the professorship is made possible through donations and support from Sebastian Knutsson and Malin Ströman, Christian Kinch, select banks within Sparbankerna, The Inner Foundation, the Lars-Olof Mattsson Foundation and Stefan Krook.