Caspar Kaiser

Doctoral Student

Department of Social Policy & Intervention

Caspar Kaiser


I analyse how socio-economic determinants like income, unemployment or social class affect life satisfaction.

Within this area, I mostly focus on two issues.

First, I aim to understand the long- and short-run dynamics of such effects. Concretely: do we adapt to income changes? Does social mobility matter to wellbeing? Are long-run increases in GDP per capita associated with sustained increases in average life satisfaction?

Second, I study how people affect each other (so called 'reference effects'). For example: does satisfaction with income depend on the incomes of others? Does the subjective value of one's social class depend on society's overall class structure?

Beyond these interests, I also work on some fundamental methodological challenges facing wellbeing research. In particular, I attempt to clarify the conditions under which statistically and substantively robust conclusions can be drawn from verbal reports about subjective wellbeing.

In the long-term, I hope that this work can contribute to the wider debate on the appropriate metrics for public policy and how societies might best act on such metrics.

Prior to commencing the DPhil in Social Policy in 2016, I completed the MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the Department of Social Policy & Intervention, and obtained a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University College Maastricht.

Brian Nolan (INET, Oxford) and Maarten Vendrik (SBE, Maastricht) supervise my doctorate. I am honoured to be funded by the inaugural Barnett-Nuffield Scholarship and a pre-doctoral research fellowship at the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre.

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