Human Flourishing and Causal Inference

(16 Dec 2021)


Ng Kong Beng Public Lecture Series 


This public lecture is part of the workshop on Causal Inference with Big Data (06 –23 Dec 2021).


About the Talk:

Many empirical studies throughout the social and biomedical sciences and many policy discussions focus only on very narrow outcomes such as income, or a single specific disease state, or measures of positive affect. Human well-being or flourishing, however, consists in a much broader range of states and outcomes. Flourishing might be understood as living in a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good including, but not limited to, happiness and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships. The empirical literature from experimental, longitudinal, and quasi-experimental studies is reviewed in attempt to identify major determinants of, and resources for, human flourishing. Principles of causal inference are used to carefully evaluate evidence. Measures of human flourishing are proposed. Discussion is given to the implications of a broader conception of human flourishing for personal well-being, for research, and for policy.

Biography of Speaker:

Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance, and biostatistics. His methodological research is focused on theory and methods for distinguishing between association and causation in the biomedical and social sciences and, more recently, on psychosocial measurement theory. His empirical research spans psychiatric and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health. He is the recipient of the 2017 Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). He has published over three hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals; is author of the books Explanation in Causal Inference (2015), Modern Epidemiology (2021), and Measuring Well-Being (2021); and he also writes a monthly blog posting on topics related to human flourishing for Psychology Today.


Online Event
8.00 pm (Singapore Time)
12.00 pm (GMT Time)



Watch the video of the lecture here.

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