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Global Flourishing Study

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Global Flourishing Study

The Global Flourishing Study (GFS) is a collaboration between ISR and Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program, in partnership with Gallup and the Center for Open Science, that will provide a rich set of data to answer these questions.

Project Overview

The GFS includes a cohort panel study of approximately 200,000 individuals in 22 geographically and culturally diverse countries, with at least five waves of annual panel longitudinal data, and a dedicated team of 40 researchers who will analyze each variable in the study across the different countries.

The panel will include individuals from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China (Hong Kong), Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The GFS will be unprecedented in its ability to offer insights into the determinants and consequences of well-being throughout the world. It will enable us to understand better what causes high levels of well-being, and what detracts most from human flourishing. We will be measuring close relationships, social support, loneliness, civic engagement, political values, personality, gratitude, forgiveness, prosociality, religious beliefs and practices, depression, anxiety, trauma, vitality, suffering, pain, meaning, self-rated health, financial security, employment, income, self-rated health, life satisfaction, and numerous other aspects of the participants’ lives and well-being.

How Do We Measure Human Flourishing?

The Human Flourishing Program at Harvard has developed a unique approach to measuring human flourishing, based around six key domains:

  1. Happiness and life satisfaction
  2. Mental and physical health
  3. Meaning and purpose
  4. Character and virtue
  5. Close social relationships
  6. Material and financial stability

Many previous studies in the social and biomedical sciences focus on narrow measures, such as income or disease. In positive psychology, studies are often restricted to positive affect. However, this is not all that we mean by human flourishing. The GFS aims for a more comprehensive measurement that captures this broad range of well-being measurements. Each of the first five of these domains is nearly universally desired, and each for the most part constitutes an end in itself. The sixth domain (material and financial well-being) is generally not sought as an end in itself but is understood as helping to sustain the other five.

To learn more about our the methodology of the GFS survey and the development of our questionnaire instrument, download the Questionnaire Development Report here. (NB: this document reflects the status of an earlier version of the project, and so may not contain the most up-to-date nature of the study).

Global Flourishing and the Study of Religion

In addition to applying a more comprehensive approach to measuring human flourishing, the GFS offers an innovative approach to studying the role of religion in well-being. Most prior studies have relied largely on cross-sectional samples from the United States and Europe (a “snapshot” perspective), which means that empirical studies of religion have often been limited to Christianity.

We propose to close this knowledge gap by examining the determinants of well-being and the effects of religion in a global probability-based panel study that includes people of all major faith traditions and none. The GFS will furthermore expand knowledge on the extent to which, and in what ways, many of the world’s largest nations are or are not flourishing, as well as why. Its longitudinal panel nature and large sample size will allow for the application of a rigorous methodology to examine the causes of flourishing.

Accessing GFS Data

In partnership with the Center for Open Science, GFS data will be available to everyone via the Open Science Framework (OSF). New waves of GFS data will be released yearly with early access up to a year in advance of public access for those that submit a Registered Report or preregister their analysis plan.

Researchers can access GFS data in three ways:

  • Preregistration:Preregister an analysis plan now to receive early access to the full dataset available in the coming months on the Center for Open Science website.
  • Registered Report:Early access also is available to those who submit a Registered Report to a journal. With Registered Reports, a journal reviews the preregistration plan and agrees to publish the findings regardless of the outcome, protecting against publication bias.
  • Public release:Those who don’t preregister can access the data after the public release scheduled for 2024.

Learn more about accessing Sample Data to pre-register for Wave 1 data here.


GFS Research Team

The core research team includes approximately 40 diverse scholars primarily associated with Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, along with several leading scholars in the field of flourishing across a variety of disciplines, including sociology, epidemiology, psychology, economics, history, theology, and philosophy.

Project Directors

  • Byron R. Johnson, Director of Institute for Studies of Religion and Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University
  • Tyler J. VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Human Flourishing Program

Learn More

For general information about the Global Flourishing Study, go to

To learn more about accessing data, pre-registration, and sample data, go to Preregistration for Wave 1 is now available via the Center for Open Science. See here for more details.

News, Op-Eds, Podcasts, and Video related to Flourishing and the GFS


Selected Research on Flourishing



  • The GFS is generously funded by the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, Templeton World Charity Foundation, Well-Being for Planet Earth, Fetzer Institute, Well Being Trust, Paul Foster Family Foundation and the David & Carol Myers Foundation.