My research is motivated by the desire to better
understand what good development is about and how to get it under way.
My research revolves around happiness, economics, development, and
"Happiness and Economics", I tried to show that the empirical
happiness (or rather subjective well-being, SWB) literature can
significantly enrich economic theory. Since happiness is an essentially
normative concept, I already discussed certain ethical aspects that took a more prominent place in my
doctoral thesis "Happiness, Ethics, and
More specifically, my research interest starts out from
the observation that any discourse about societal development, and
indeed the very term "development", are inherently normative and
naturally come with the (most often implicit) claim to speak in the name
of ethically good development. This is true for development economics,
happiness research etc. Typically, however, the respective disciplinary
literature neglects the fundamental question of what good development
actually is, taking for granted that it is whatever the discipline has
singled out as desirable (maximum economic growth or maximum happiness,
respectively). This is where development ethics comes in as a rather new
discipline investigating exactly this question.
Within this framework,
my research can be characterized as belonging primarily to development
ethics—i.e., it is ultimately research with an ethical perspective—but
making extensive use of insights from economics and from psychological happiness research.