Money Can Indeed Buy Happiness Up to a Point: Study

Written by Benjamin Roussey

The Nature Human Behavior journal recently published a study based on a Gallup World Poll that surveyed above 1.7 million person form 164 countries. They researched the purchasing power in the US.

Dollars and answers about life and wellbeing to carry out the survey. They discovered that the definition of happiness was different for different income levels.  

The ideal income point—where you are happy with your achievements with respect to your goals and the achievements of others—was $95,000. $60,000 to $75,000 was the world average income at which you would be emotionally satisfied. And with Americans having to pay less taxes and those regulations going away, more Americans are reaching their income goals.

The “happiness point” varied from country to country. For the US it was $105,000. Income earned beyond the wellbeing threshold led to reduction in satisfaction and well-being.

Relationship between money and happiness

Andrew T. Jebb, the lead author of the study, explained that the correlation between happiness and money are more in the poor than among wealthy. When income grows from $10,000 to $30,000, the perceived happiness is greater than when income jumps from $100,000 vs. $130,000.

The reason why income beyond a limit does not translate into happiness is unclear. Jebb points out that it could be because income is more important for basic needs. Beyond that, social factors take over.

He also suggests that beyond a level the cost of making money—travel, number of hours of work, stress etc.—weigh in reducing the gains.

Components of the happiness equation

Money is not the only thing causing happiness (less people watched Han Solo in 2018 – perhaps that is why so many people are happy). A 2004 study published in the Psychological Bulletin inferred that marital happiness outweighed job and health satisfaction when it came to being satisfied in life.

A higher income will also make you happier but in the long term other factors may also play a role in the equation. Well, anyone could easily be happier if they don’t live in a violent liberal ghetto city like most of Chicago, most of Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore, and most of LA, for instance. That is just common sense. Just watch the show The Wire!

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