Do active labour market policies promote the subjective well-being of the unemployed? Evidence from the UK national well-being programme

Daniel Sage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


In the past 5 years, the UK government has expanded its efforts to understand, measure and incorporate indicators of subjective well-being (SWB) into the policy-making process. Utilizing the new data collected as part of the government’s well-being agenda, this paper investigates whether active labour market programmes (ALMPs) are associated with increased SWB amongst the unemployed. Unemployment has long been shown to be detrimental to mental health and happiness. In recent years, ALMPs have been increasingly proposed as potential mechanisms to improve the SWB of the unemployed. Using multiple linear regression models, the findings suggest that ALMPs do improve the SWB of the unemployed. However, there are three caveats. First, the effect of ALMPs appears to be far stronger for evaluative measures of SWB over affective measures. Second, the effect of ALMPs is larger for men than for women. Third, the impact of an ALMP is dependent upon the type of intervention: work-oriented ALMPs are more effective than employment-assistance ALMPs. In light of these findings, the theoretical and policy consequences are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1298
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Unemployment
  • Subjective well-being
  • Active labour market programmes
  • Happiness
  • United Kingdom

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