Van Praag (1939) studied econometrics at the University of Amsterdam where he defended his dissertation on 'Individual Welfare and the Theory of Consumer Behaviour' cum laude in 1968. In 1969 he was appointed as a professor at the Free University of Brussels, in 1970 he became associate professor at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. In 1972 he was appointed professor of economics at the University of Leiden. In 1984 he became professor at Erasmus University and in 1992 he was appointed professor in 'applied economic research' at the University of Amsterdam and managing director of the Foundation for Economic Research. In 2000 he became University Professor at the University of Amsterdam.
He has published many articles on the subjects central to this proposal. He was the founding president of the European Society for Population Economics (ESPE) and co-editor of the Journal of Population Economics. He served also as an associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics. He was a member of the Dutch Social Economic Council. He did research for DG V and for Eurostat on Poverty in Europe. From 1988 - 92 he was a member of the (Dutch) Scientific Council for Government Policy, a prominent advisory body for the Dutch government on long term policy issues. He was the responsible council member for the council's report "Ouderen voor Ouderen" which initiated the demographic discussion on the graying society in Holland.
In 1999 he was elected a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. His main research line is the measurement and explanation of welfare and well-being. Van Praag is also active in econometric methodology, labour and health economics, conjoint analysis and the economics of ageing. In 2004 Oxford University Press published the book Happiness Quantified, A Satisfaction Calculus Approach by Van Praag and Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell. A slightly revised version will appear in paperback in 2007.
He published in a wide range of journals, including the Review of Economics and Statistics, European Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Econometrica, Psychometrika, Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Economic Psychology.
Van Praag joined IZA as a Research Fellow in January 2001.