Ken Leach
PhD Student



I graduated from York with a BA in Archaeology in 2004. I then moved to London to join the civil service where I worked in the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office for five years. After developing an interest in social policy and identifying the need for evidence-based decision making, I decided to leave London in March 2010 to complete a full-time MA in Social Research back in York.

I am currently working on a part-time PhD focusing on well-being and policy development.



Over the past decade there has been increased interest from politicians, policy makers and academics to attempt to capture, analyse and act on data on individuals’ subjective wellbeing and/or happiness. Early in its tenure, the current coalition government expressed an interest in using such data to augment traditional measurements of societal development and status ­– such as GDP or a Gini coefficient and resources were allocated to the Office for National Statistics to draw up a framework for measuring the wellbeing of the nation.

Now that issues of wellbeing and happiness are firmly on the political and policy agenda, I believe it is necessary to understand how potential policy solutions are being initially developed; what factors shape their development; and which individuals and groups feed into those processes.

This research project has four main aims:

  1. To map out the existing professional governance structure of wellbeing and happiness studies in the UK and to determine if there is anything unique about that structure when compared to similar large-scale initiatives.
  2. To find out what those involved in the creation of wellbeing and happiness policy interventions believe the potential benefits, drawbacks and challenges from such measurements and interventions are - both for policy makers and the population as a whole.
  3. To be signposted to institutions, programmes or individuals who are regarded as undertaking ‘best practice’ work in the field of happiness or wellbeing studies, which might form the basis of further research.
  4. To attempt to gain a understanding of the direction(s) in which happiness and wellbeing metrics and policy interventions in the UK are likely to be heading in over the next few years.


Supervisor: Brian Loader



I teach on the first year undergraduate 'Introduction to Sociological Theory' course


Selected publications


'Blink Blink, Nudge Nudge: Behavioural economics and evidence-based policy making'  at conference on 'Public Perceptions of the Social Sciences in a Contemporary Era of Unrest' 16 April 2012


Contact details

Ken Leach
PhD Student
Department of Sociology
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD

Ken's Blog