Wellbeing Economies


Economic growth has long been the benchmark of social progress. It is increasingly accepted, however,  that economic growth alone fails to capture what it means for individuals and communities to be doing well. 

The Wellbeing Economies theme researches what drives alternative measures of social progress. We study what  affects subjective assessments of people’s feelings and experiences, objective capabilities and functioning, and wellbeing inequalities. 

Recognising that wellbeing is best understood in context, we focus on local and global place-based geographies, institutions like schools and workplaces, housing policy, work and economic livelihoods, architecture and design. Ultimately, we aim to impact on policies that shape individual and community wellbeing.

Wellbeing Economies Theme Co-Leads

Theme Lead

Dr Laura Kudrna

Dr Laura Kudrna

Assistant Professor

Institute of Applied Health Research

Laura Kudrna is an Assistant Professor in Health Research Methods at the University of Birmingham.  She researches behaviour change and wellbeing and has specific interests in topics related to workplaces, income and inequalities. 



The Wellbeing Economies seminar series is a cross-theme series on Wellbeing Policy. Please see our events page for future seminars.

Past Webinars

Wed, 8 Dec, 2021 – 1pm – Philip Kinghorn – Informing resource allocation decisions in social care: attempts to broaden consideration beyond cost to include aspects of wellbeing

Wed, 1 Dec, 2021 – 1pm – Daniel Wheatley – Wellbeing, remote working and employee-led flexibility: informing the post-Covid-19 era

Wed, 24 Nov, 2021 – 1pm – Miguel Ribeiro Da Silva Taborda Ramos  – The impact of social diversity on wellbeing and health

Wed, 17 Nov, 2021 – 1pm – Professor Jessica Woodhams, Dr Fazeelat Duran – Impact of traumatic material on the back-office staff’s mental health and wellbeing in criminal justice setting

Wed, 10 Nov, 2021 – 1pm – Dr Oyinlola Ayebode – Better understanding of mental wellbeing in educational communities in Tanzania

Wed, 3 Nov, 2021 – 1pm – Dr Marica Cassarino – Putting wellbeing in place? Considerations about place-based happiness and equity from a psychosocial perspective

Wed, 27 Oct, 2021 –  1pm – Dr Luke Munford – Mental health and wellbeing ‘poverty’ in England: concepts and the unequal spread

Wed, 13 Oct, 2021 – 4pm – Carol Graham – When twin public health crises meet: differential trends in resilience, wellbeing, and deaths of despair during the Covid pandemic

Current Projects




Workplace health and wellbeing initiatives that are free at the point of use to workplaces

WHISPAs provide information, advice, activities, and/or accreditation about workplace health and wellbeing, such as guidance on policies about flexible working and caring responsibilities, mental health support, and fitness classes. They are free at the point of use for workplaces, usually because they are funded by local government or voluntary and community organisations. Free at the point of use means that participating workplaces do not need to pay anything to take part. Examples include the Better Health at Work Award in the North East and Cumbria, Thrive at Work in the West Midlands, and Healthy Cornwall workplace health. If you are involved in a WHISPA, please get in touch with us – we want to hear from you.

To find out more information on the WHISPAs network click here.

Ladywood Research Group

Ladywood Research Group

Better understanding the regeneration of Ladywood, Birmingham UK

Birmingham City Council is undertaking a large regeneration of a central area of the city called Ladywood. The regeneration will affect around 2,000 homes, businesses, and places of worship. Mass compulsory purchase and demolition are expected and little to no resident consultation has been undertaken. There are complex social, economic, environmental, and legal aspects of these plans, which research can help to inform. The purpose of this research group is to identify and shape research projects associated with the Ladywood Regeneration. For information about joining upcoming meetings, contact m.dinunzio@bham.ac.uk and l.kudrna@bham.ac.uk.

Read Dr Di Nunzio’s commentary on the regeneration here and a blog post summarising the activity to date here.  

Rethinking Work

Rethinking Work

Grounded in an over a decade of ethnographic and anthropological exploration about living, livelihoods and the everyday life , this project explores the discontent with work and workers’ attempts to imagine a life beyond work. This project seeks to rethink work by exploring how workers’ acts of refusal and ordinary defiance seek to navigate and challenge how work reinforces experiences of oppression and subjugation. Rethinking work documents workers’ struggles and subjectivities as revolving around workers’ attempts at recapturing a degree of ownership of their bodies and carving out some space and time for themselves.

To find out more information on Rethinking Work, click here.

The political and moral economy of construction booms

The political and moral economy of construction booms

Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork and interviews carried out between 2013 and 2020, this project is an investigation of the political and moral economies of the construction industry, the sector leading the expansion of African cities. This project explores how city builders’ understandings of the economically necessary and the politically urgent as well as of their moral roles and responsibilities in the city have contributed to shape experiences of urban exclusion.

To find out more information on the project, click here.


Related projects