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Biographical Sketch


Paul Dolan is an internationally renowned expert on happiness, behaviour and public policy. He is currently a Professor of Behavioural Science in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Director of the new Executive MSc in Behavioural Science.

His book ‘Happiness by Design’ published on the  28th August 2014, see more at

There are three main themes to his work:

  1. Developing measures of happiness and subjective wellbeing that can be used in policy and by individuals looking to be happier.
  2. Considering ways in which the lessons from the behavioural sciences can be used to understand and change individual behaviour, and to add to the evidence base in this regard.
  3. Using lab and field experiments to address major challenges, such as the impact of interventions on people’s lives and on their behaviour.

Current professional activities

  • Chief Academic Advisor on Economic Appraisal, Government Economic Service
  • Member of National Academy of Sciences Panel on wellbeing
  • Member of Measuring National Wellbeing Advisory Forum
  • Visiting Professor, Imperial College London
  • Associate, Institute for Government

Previous employment

2010-2011       Seconded member of Behavioural Insights Team, Cabinet Office, UK.

2006-2009       Professor of Economics, Imperial College Business School

2000-2006       Professor of Health Economics, University of Sheffield.

1998-2000       Senior Lecture then Reader in Health Economics, University of Sheffield.

1994-1998       Lecturer in Economics, Universities of Newcastle and York.

1991-1994       Research Fellow, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.

Other previous positions

2005-2006      Founder-Director, Centre for Well-being in Public Policy, Sheffield.

2004-2005      Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton University (with Professor Daniel Kahneman).

2000-2003      Professor II in Health Economics, University of Oslo.

Degrees and awards

Philip Leverhulme Prize in Economics (2002) for contribution to health economics

D.Phil. Econ, University of York “Issues in the valuation of health outcomes” (1997)

M.Sc. (Econ, with distinction), University of York (1991)

B.Sc. (Econ), University of Swansea (1989)

Career highlights

His first achievements were in developing ways of valuing health so that resources can be allocated more efficiently. These contributions were recognised in a professorship in health economics in 2000 (at the age of 32) and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Economics in 2002 for his contribution to health economics and quality-adjusted life years. His research then focussed on how to account for fairness in measures of benefit, developing ways to weight QALYs according to potentially important characteristics of the recipient.The policy impact of his work in health was recognised more widely by his appointment in 2008 as Chief Academic Advisor to the UK Government Economic Service on Economic appraisal.

His international reputation has been further advanced by an invitation from Nobel Laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman to work with him at Princeton in 2004-5. Their 2008 paper in the Economic Journal is the most cited paper in that journal since that year. Since his time at Princeton, he has focussed on more direct measures of wellbeing. He has been developing measures that capture both ‘pleasure’ and ‘purpose. He is a member of the National Wellbeing Advisory Forum for the Office of National Statistics in the UK, and was lead author of a report that made the recommendations to the ONS about what happiness questions to include in large-scale national surveys. He is also advising the National Academy of Sciences in the US on measurement issues in happiness research.

Over the past few years, he has begun exploring the influences of automatic responses on individual behaviour, and how these relate to our preferences, health and wellbeing. He was an author of the “Mindspace” report for the UK Cabinet Office. “Mindspace” is a mnemonic for the nine most robust effects on behaviour that operate largely, but not exclusively, through our automatic system (the part of our brain that responds unconsciously to contextual influences). His work on Mindspace is being used across the public and private sectors, and he is increasingly asked for consultancy advice on how to change behaviour in organisations and populations.