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Mark Fabian

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Assistant Professor in Public Policy


Office: E2.09 (Social Science above PAIS office - left at top of stairs and I'm on the right hand side of the corridor)


I am assistant professor of public policy at the University of Warwick in the department of politics and international studies (PAIS). I am also an affiliate researcher at the Bennett Institute for Public PolicyLink opens in a new window at Cambridge University. I was previously a Fulbright Scholar at the Brookings Institution in DC. I hold a BA in philosophy and history, an MA in development economics, and a PhD in economic policy, all from the Australian National University.


I study wellbeing from an interdisciplinary perspective with a particular focus on policy applications. My early work, including my book, A Theory of Subjective Wellbeing (Oxford University Press), was concerned primarily with what wellbeing is and how it can be measured effectively. In this work I am predominantly interested in explaining people's lived experience of their own wellbeing. I have found that perspectives from analytical philosophy are mostly useless for this, and even theories of so-called 'subjective wellbeing' from psychology provide mostly superficial insights. I am much more influenced by perspectives informed by clinical experience, especially the work of Carl Rogers, Ryan & Deci's Self Determination Theory, Frankl's logotherapy, and existential and humanist psychology. I subscribe broadly to a functionalist account of wellbeing, which is one that takes seriously the nature of the human organism and its evolutionary basis.

I maintain a substantial stream of research investigating how life satisfaction scales work and to what extent they are a precise measurement instrument (see this paper). I am leading an ambitious adversarial collaboration in this regard wherein I represent the most sceptical position and my colleagues are more optimistic.

My primary research interest as of 2022 is wellbeing public policy (see this paper), specifically a book project called The Wellbeing State: Transforming Political Economy. This is an attempt to update welfare state theory for the 21st century, with a strong theme of taking 'welfare' beyond material considerations into the psychological and sociological domain. However, in contrast to most advocacy of wellbeing public policy, I do not advocate a science-into-policy approach. Instead, the book starts from the perspective of day to day public management. What is it in the way we currently govern advanced nations that is contributing to illbeing in the form of, among other things, a mental health epidemic, environmental collapse, political polarisation, and social atomisation? How can we reform governance so that it more effectively promotes human flourishing in the context of the 21st century? A major theme of this public management research is the coproduction of wellbeing policy (see this paper). This is where people affected by policy, practitioners who implement it, and area experts come together to collaboratively design policy terms, objectives, measures, and evaluation criteria (a case study for wellbeing in financial hardship is here).

I am interested in supervising PhD and MA by research students on any of the topics above, including related topics like workplace wellbeing, positive psychology interventions, participatory governance, and happiness economics.

A full list of my publications is available here:

Check out my podcast, ePODstemology - early career researchers talking about their pathbreaking work:


I am currently the convenor for PO2D0 - Public Policy for 21st Century Challenges. In the past I have taught economics for policy, applied policy, development economics, evidence and analysis in public policy, and foundations of political theory.