Skip to content Accessibility statement

The happiness question

Posted on 8 March 2011

Professor Lord Layard will explore whether a happier society is possible in a keynote speech at the University of York.

The author of the influential book, Happiness – Lessons from a New Science, Professor Lord (Richard) Layard will present the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lecture at the University’s Vanbrugh College on Thursday, 10 March. The event is free and open to all.

As we deal with the fallout of the credit crunch, it is timely to be thinking about what sort of society we wish to have in the future

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

A member of the House of Lords since 2000, Professor Lord Layard is a keen advocate of making people’s well-being a central objective of government. He is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, where he was the founder-director of the Centre for Economic Performance, and now heads the Centre’s Programme on Well-Being.

Professor Lord Layard is a labour economist who has made major contributions on unemployment, inflation, inequality and post-Communist reform. He was an early advocate of the welfare-to-work approach to European unemployment and his work has influenced policy in many countries. He also advises the Government on mental health policy.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation Lecture was set up to reflect the themes of common interest to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University’s School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy. This is their fourth co-hosted annual lecture.

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Professor Lord Layard, to deliver this year’s co-hosted lecture Is a happier society possible? As we deal with the fallout of the credit crunch, it is timely to be thinking about what sort of society we wish to have in the future. It should be a fascinating discussion.”

Professor Lord Layard will publish a second edition of Happiness this spring. Together with Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of the Young Foundation and Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College who introduced classes in happiness for pupils, Professor Lord Layard will be launching a mass movement for happiness in April 2011, aimed at producing a happier society.

The lecture will be held in Room V/045 at Vanbrugh College, Heslington West campus, at 6pm.

Notes to editors:

  • The Joseph Rowntree Foundation seeks to understand the root causes of social problems, to identify ways of overcoming them, and to show how social needs can be met in practice. More information is available at
  • More information about the School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy can be found at
  • The University hosts a series of public lectures covering a wide variety of subjects every year. A complete list is available at

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Keep up to date

 Subscribe to news feeds

 Follow us on Twitter