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International Day of Happiness: Measuring Well-Being   Tags: happiness, mdgs, quality of life, statistics, sustainable development, well-being  

Dig deeper into the research on one of humanity’s fundamental goals: the pursuit of happiness.
Last Updated: Apr 4, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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International Day of Happiness

UNICEF photo

The General Assembly has proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness (resolution 66/281) recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. 

The research on well-being –sometimes called happiness studies- can be found in a wide-range of fields including economics, business, psychology, sociology, political science, and education.  

Start your search for books and journal articles with these multi-discplinary databases:


Search Tip

Try using these keywords when searching for books and articles:

  • Quality of Life (use in UNBISnet)
  • Well-being
  • Eudemonia (term used by Aristotle)
  • Positive psychology
  • Happiness

Required Reading


Access to electronic resources

Books and articles can be accessed online within the UN Headquarters.

Articles can be delivered to permanent mission by e-mail upon request.

Measuring Well-Being

  • Human Development Report
    The UN Development Programme's flagship publication that collects and analyses human development information from countries worldwide.
  • Your Better Life Index
    Compare the 34 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (as well as Brazil and the Russian Federation) across the 11 topics of well-being.
  • State of the World's Population
    Statistical tables in this UNFPA report include indicators that track progress toward ICPD & Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in maternal health, access to education, reproductive and sexual health. Published annually.
  • State of the World's Children
    Annual report published by UNICEF that provides economic and social statistics on children throughout the world, with a focus on children’s well-being.
  • Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness
    Bhutan has championed the measuring of Gross National Happiness for decades. See their index, tools, policies, and the 9 domains of happiness.
  • Happy Planet Index
    Measures 3 components of sustainable well-being - life expectancy, experienced well-being and ecological footprint. From the New Economics Foundation, a UK think tank.


To browse our e-books on happiness, click here and here.  To see what is in print, search in the Library catalogue, UNBISnet.

Cover Art
How's Life? 2013 Measuring Well-being - Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
This book format of OECD's Better Life Index, illustrates how OECD countries compare across 11 determinants of well-being: housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance.

Cover Art
International Differences in Well-Being
Call Number: 308(04) I61
Compilation of work from scholars around the world using subjective well-being data to understand and compare well-being across countries and cultures. Points to data from the Gallup World Poll & World Values Survey.

Cover Art
Handbook of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Research
An overview of the field of happiness studies. Discusses social indicators such as unemployment rates, crime rates, life expectancy, health status indices, school enrollment rates, average achievement scores, election voting rates, and measures of subjective well-being.

Cover Art
The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-being
Call Number: 330 G738
Economist Carol Graham explores the determinants of happiness and presents both the promise and the potential pitfalls of injecting the 'economics of happiness' into public policy-making.

Cover Art
Prosperity Without Growth
Call Number: 339 J14
Tim Jackson -a sustainability adviser to the UK government- makes a case against continued economic growth in developed nations. This book is an update of his study for the UK's Sustainable Development Commission.

Cover Art
OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-Being
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developmen provides recommendations on collecting, publishing, and analysing subjective well-being data. It also explains why measures of subjective well-being are relevant for policy making & the role of national statistical agencies in enhancing the usefulness of existing measures.


A new economic paradigm

“We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development.  Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible.  Together they define gross global happiness.”

-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at High-level Meeting on Happiness and Well-being


Dag Hammarskjöld Library



This guide is intended to provide delegates and UN Secretariat Staff with selected content from both UN and non-UN sources on the topic.

It references third-party web sites, books and articles. It does not imply the endorsement of the content by the United Nations.


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