1. First, list your current professional title. Second, describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies.
I am currently a research associate in the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University. I received a bachelor’s degree in economics (quantitative economics track) from the Singapore Management University. After that, I started my PhD in economics, especially economics of happiness, at the University of Southern California, as Richard Easterlin’s last PhD student. I study the determinants of subjective well-being in populations around the world, in particular the effects of both economic and social conditions, including among others: income, consumption, interpersonal comparisons, supportive relationships, and social capital. My research provides insight that could be used to design policies aiming to promote well-being.
I was introduced to the concept of eudaimonia or genuine human flourishing when I joined the Eudaimonia Institute at Wake Forest University in 2018. I am exploring both the theory of eudaimonia and its practical implications. Developing an interdisciplinary understanding, I seek to investigate the kinds of lives that are truly worth living as well as the types of policies and practices that should be encouraged to help people to lead such lives.
I am one of the founding members and contributors of the incoming China Happiness Report.
2. What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
I was first attracted to quality-of-life studies while I was preparing my second-year paper on social capital and migration during the second summer in my PhD program. One year later, I expressed strong interest in the economics of happiness when Richard Easterlin was hiring a research assistant to study the life satisfaction of the Alaskan Iñupiat. I feel so blessed that he selected me and guided me into this field.
3. What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
With a growing interest among multidisciplinary researchers in the study of subjective well-being measures and an increasing availability of data, this field will continue to grow. As far as I am concerned, there are two general areas that researchers in this field can look more into in the future. First, it will be important and meaningful to evaluate the causal relationship between environmental damage and subjective well-being. A number of policy goals, such as Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, highlight the importance of the environment. However, it is still unclear how much people value good environment. Quality-of-life researchers are able to answer this question from a new perspective. Second, more attention should be drawn to the relationship between the use of social media and happiness. The increasing use of social media has not only transformed the ways we can exchange support but also provided us with more opportunities to obtain information, which make it easier to compare with peers. Investigations into the relationship between the use of social network sites and happiness can help us to understand social comparison in the contemporary world.
4. How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I have been involved in ISQOLS since 2015. My advisor Richard Easterlin introduced me to the community, and I presented my first paper on happiness in the 2015 Phoenix conference. I have a very strong sense of belonging to this community since I am able to find numerous scholars with common goals and interest. ISQOLS helped me to build international multidisciplinary network and offered me unique opportunities to acquire knowledge from other disciplines. I always feel welcome during the conferences.
5. Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
Many of my past and current projects are about the well-being of Asian populations. I was very pleased to find that ISQOLS started to have more conferences in Asia in recent years. I attended the one in Seoul in 2016 and another in Hong Kong in 2018. I greatly appreciate that ISQOLS has done and is continuing doing an excellent job in facilitating communications between western and eastern quality-of-life researchers. I am looking forward to all the future conferences!