People Feature

Caspar Kaiser

DPhil in Social Policy

Research Interests: Subjective measures of quality of life and their potential uses for public policy.

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 started work on the methodological challenges facing wellbeing research. In particular, I try to clarify under what conditions statistically 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.


Caspar Kaiser