Richard Layard, Baron Layard

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Richard Layard, 2006 Richard Layard.jpg
Richard Layard, 2006

Peter Richard Grenville Layard, Baron Layard FBA (born 15 March 1934) is a British labour economist, currently working as programme director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

Fellow of the British Academy award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences

Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:

  1. Fellows, for scholars resident in the United Kingdom
  2. Corresponding Fellows, for scholars not resident in the UK
  3. Honorary Fellows, an honorary academic title


His early career focused on how to reduce unemployment and inequality. He was Senior Research Officer for the famous Robbins Committee on Higher Education. This committee's report led to the massive expansion of UK university education in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Robbins Report was commissioned by the British government and published in 1963. The committee met from 1961 to 1963. After the report's publication, its conclusions were accepted by the government on 24 October 1963.

Following research on happiness begun in the 1970s by economists such as Richard Easterlin at the University of Southern California, he has written about the economics of happiness, with one theme being the importance of non-income variables on aggregate happiness, including mental health.

Richard Ainley Easterlin is a professor of economics at the University of Southern California. He is best known for the economic theory named after him, the Easterlin paradox.

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

His main current interest is how better mental health could improve our social and economic life. His work on mental health, including publishing The Depression Report in 2006, led to the establishment of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme in England. He is co-editor of the World Happiness Report, with John F. Helliwell and Jeffrey Sachs. [1]

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a National Health Service (England) initiative to provide more psychotherapy to the general population. It was developed and introduced by the Labour Party as a result of economic evaluations by Professor Lord Richard Layard, based on new therapy guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as promoted by clinical psychologist David M. Clark.

World Happiness Report annual publication of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network that contains rankings of national happiness

The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It contains articles, and rankings of national happiness based on respondent ratings of their own lives, which the report also correlates with various life factors.

John F. Helliwell Canadian economist

John F. Helliwell, born in August 15, 1937, is a Canadian economist and editor of the World Happiness Report. He is a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and Co-Director of the CIFAR Programme on Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-Being; Board Director of the International Positive Psychology Association, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

Family and education

Eton College Etoncollege.JPG
Eton College

Peter Richard Grenville Layard is the son of John Layard. He was educated at Eton, where he was a King's scholar; at King's College, Cambridge (he is a member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostles society); and at the London School of Economics.

John Willoughby Layard was an English anthropologist and psychologist.

Eton College school in Windsor and Maidenhead, UK

Eton College is a 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire, England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore , as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school. Eton's history and influence have made Eton one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

Kings College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Formally The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, the college lies beside the River Cam and faces out onto King's Parade in the centre of the city.


Layard assisted Claus Moser on the Robbins enquiry, and later developed a reputation in the economics of education (with Mark Blaug at LSE), and labour economics (in particular with Stephen Nickell). He advocated many of the policies which characterised the New Labour government, particularly the New Deal, partly by founding the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. One approach he took is based on the idea of welfare-to-work, where social welfare payments are structured in a way that encourages (or forces) recipients back into the job market.

Mark Blaug FBA was a Dutch-born British economist, who covered a broad range of topics during his long career.

Labour economics functioning and dynamics of the markets for labour

Labour economics seeks to understand the functioning and dynamics of the markets for wage labour.

Stephen Nickell British economist

Sir Stephen John Nickell, is a British economist and former Warden of Nuffield College, Oxford, noted for his work in labour economics with Richard Layard and Richard Jackman. Nickell and Layard hypothesised the tendency for reduced unemployment to lead to inflation resulted from its effect on competitive bargaining in the labour market He is currently a member of the Office for Budget Responsibility's Budget Responsibility Committee.

As well as academic positions, Layard worked as an advisor for numerous organisations, including government institutions in the United Kingdom and Russia.

In 1990 he was founder-director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. where he is presently programme director.

Happiness and wellbeing

Layard became active in the study of what has since come to be known as happiness economics. This branch of economic analysis starts from the argument that income is a bad approximation for happiness. Based on modern happiness research, he cites three factors that economists fail to take into consideration:

From these observations, Layard concludes that taxes serve another purpose besides paying for public services (usually for public goods) and redistributing income. The third purpose is to counteract the cognitive bias that causes people to work more than is good for their happiness. That is, taxes should help citizens preserve a healthy work-life balance.

In 2005 Layard published the book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, in which he emphasised the importance of non-income variables on aggregate happiness. His book summarises the prior empirical findings produced by economists such as Richard Easterlin, David G Blanchflower, Andrew E Clark, Rafael Di Tella, Robert MacCulloch, and Andrew Oswald. In particular he stressed the role of mental health and argued that psychological treatments ought to be much more widely available.

Subsequent books have included Happiness: Lessons from a new science (2011) [2] and The Origins of Happiness (2018). [3]

In 2012 he co-edited, with Jeffrey Sachs and John Helliwell, the World Happiness Report, and has been involved in subsequent years. [4]

Mental health

Layard's mental health work [5] resulted in the development of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), an initiative to improve access to psychological therapies in the United Kingdom. [6]

In 2014, with the clinical psychologist David M Clark, he published the book Thrive: The Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies, in which the authors demonstrate the potential value of the wider availability of modern talking therapies, and include a chapter on mental illness prevention. [7]

Layard has shown that mental illness is the main cause of unhappiness. [8]


In 2015, he was co-author of the report that launched the Global Apollo Programme, which calls for developed nations to commit to spending 0.02% of their GDP for 10 years, to fund co-ordinated research to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal by the year 2025. [9]


Recent research on happiness questioning part of Baron Layard's thesis and suggesting that people do obtain happiness from increased income [10] forms part of ongoing investigations into the Easterlin Paradox.

Personal life

Layard was made a Labour life peer in the House of Lords on 3 May 2000 as Baron Layard, of Highgate in the London Borough of Haringey. [11]

In 1991, he married Molly Christine Meacher, who was formerly married to Michael Meacher. Molly, styled Lady Layard between 2000 and 2006, was herself created a life peer in 2006 as Baroness Meacher. They are one of the few couples to both hold titles in their own right.


In 2003, Layard was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA). [12] In 2016, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS). [13]

Selected bibliography

Book chapters
Journal articles


Coat of arms of Richard Layard, Baron Layard
Coronet of a Baron
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or, a Mullet of six-points radiated Or, pierced Gules.
Quarterly: 1st & 4th, Gules, a Chevron between in chief two Mullets of six-points radiated Or, pierced Gules, and in base a Crescent Argent, on a Chief Azure, three Mullets of six-points Or, pierced Gules (Layard); 2nd, Gules, a Cross Or, in the dexter canton a Lion rampant supporting an Anchor erect with Cable Or (Croze, anciently Croissy); 3rd, Vert, three Doves volant Argent (Balaire).

Related Research Articles

Quality of life (QOL) is an overarching term for the quality of the various domains in life. It is a standard level that consists of the expectations of an individual or society for a good life. These expectations are guided by the values, goals and socio-cultural context in which an individual lives. It is a subjective, multidimensional concept that defines a standard level for emotional, physical, material and social well-being. It serves as a reference against which an individual or society can measure the different domains of one’s own life. The extent to which one's own life coincides with this desired standard level, put differently, the degree to which these domains give satisfaction and as such contribute to one's subjective well-being, is called life satisfaction.

John Hicks British economist

Sir John Richard Hicks was a British economist. He was considered one of the most important and influential economists of the twentieth century. The most familiar of his many contributions in the field of economics were his statement of consumer demand theory in microeconomics, and the IS/LM model (1937), which summarised a Keynesian view of macroeconomics. His book Value and Capital (1939) significantly extended general-equilibrium and value theory. The compensated demand function is named the Hicksian demand function in memory of him.

Jeffrey Sachs American economist

Jeffrey David Sachs is an American economist, academic, public policy analyst and former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he holds the title of University Professor, the highest rank Columbia bestows on its faculty. He is known as one of the world's leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty.

Lionel Robbins British economist

Lionel Charles Robbins, Baron Robbins, was a British economist, and prominent member of the economics department at the London School of Economics. He is known for his leadership at LSE, his proposed definition of economics, and for his instrumental efforts in shifting Anglo-Saxon economics from its Marshallian direction. He is famous for the quote, "Humans want what they can't have."

Sir Arthur Lyon Bowley was an English statistician and economist who worked on economic statistics and pioneered the use of sampling techniques in social surveys.

Christopher A. Pissarides British-Cypriot economist

Sir Christopher Antoniou Pissarides is a British-Cypriot economist. He is the School Professor of Economics & Political Science and Regius Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, and Professor of European Studies at the University of Cyprus. His research focuses on topics of macroeconomics, notably labour, economic growth, and economic policy. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, jointly with Peter A. Diamond and Dale Mortensen, "for their analysis of markets with theory of search frictions."

Andrew Oswald British economist

Andrew Oswald was until recently the acting research director at the IZA Institute in Bonn and is a professor of economics at the University of Warwick, UK. He is an ISI highly cited researcher and has been a professorial fellow of the ESRC. He is currently a member of the board of editors of Science. He held previous posts at Oxford, the London School of Economics, Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard.

Edwin Cannan British economist

Edwin Cannan, the son of David Cannan and artist Jane Cannan, was a British economist and historian of economic thought. He was a professor at the London School of Economics from 1895 to 1926.

The economics of happiness or happiness economics is the quantitative and theoretical study of happiness, positive and negative affect, well-being, quality of life, life satisfaction and related concepts, typically combining economics with other fields such as psychology, health and sociology. It typically treats such happiness-related measures, rather than wealth, income or profit, as something to be maximized. The field has grown substantially since the late 20th century, for example by the development of methods, surveys and indices to measure happiness and related concepts. Its findings have been described as a challenge to the economics profession.

Molly Meacher, Baroness Meacher British politician

Molly Christine Meacher, Baroness Meacher,, known from 2000 to 2006 as Lady Layard, is a British life peer and former social worker.

The Easterlin paradox is a finding in happiness economics formulated in 1974 by Richard Easterlin, then professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and the first economist to study happiness data. The paradox states that at a point in time happiness varies directly with income both among and within nations, but over time happiness does not trend upward as income continues to grow. It is the contradiction between the point-of-time and time series findings that is the root of the paradox. Various theories have been advanced to explain the Paradox, but the Paradox itself is solely an empirical generalization. The existence of the paradox has been strongly disputed by other researchers.

Nicholas Barr British economist

Nicholas Barr FRSA is a British economist, currently serving as professor of public economics at the London School of Economics (LSE). He received his Ph.D. in Economics as a Fulbright Scholar from the University of California, Berkeley and his MSc in Economics from LSE. According to his LSE biography, he has worked for the World Bank, "from 1990 to 1992 working on the design of income transfers and health finance in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, and in 1995-96 as a principal author of the World Bank's World Development Report 1996: From Plan to Market." He also served as an advisor to the British, Chinese and South African governments.

Relational goods

Relational goods are non-material goods that can only be produced and consumed within groups, and which are intrinsically linked to relationships and interaction. Popular examples include the enjoyment of a football game in a stadium, where the collective enjoyment of the game adds a relational good in terms of excitement and enjoyment to all in the stadium. This constitutes an experience that cannot be had when watching alone. Other examples include group charity work, friendship or reciprocal love. Relational goods can be necessary for the optimization of an activity like the football game example. On the other hand, like Nussbaum suggest, a relational good may be the relationship in itself, with the good being dependent on the existence of the relationship. Friendships is an example of a relationship in which the value that come from the relationship are tied up in the existence and maintenance of the relationship.

Bernard Marinus Siegfried van Praag is a Dutch economist, and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Amsterdam, noted for researching the measurement of welfare, as well-being and happiness.

David Millar Clark, is a British psychologist. He has been a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oxford since 2011 and is also National Clinical Adviser at the Department of Health.


  5. "The Depression Report. A new deal for depression and anxiety disorders" (PDF). London School of Economics. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  6. "Fit for purpose". The Guardian. London. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  7. Layard, Richard; Clark, David (2014). Thrive: The Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies. London, England: Allen Lane. ISBN   978-1-846-14605-3.
  9. Carrington, Damian. "Global Apollo programme seeks to make clean energy cheaper than coal". The Guardian (2 June 2015). Guardian News Media . Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  10. Stevenson, Betsey; Wolfers, Justin (2008). "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox" (PDF). Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. 2008: 1–87. doi:10.1353/eca.0.0001. JSTOR   27561613. (comments and discussion pp. 88–102).
  11. "No. 55840". The London Gazette . 8 May 2000. p. 5023.
  12. "Professor Lord (Richard) Layard of Highgate". British Academy. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  13. "Eighty-four leading social scientists conferred as Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences". Academy of Social Sciences. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2017.

See also