Skip to comments.Study: Money-happiness link is complex
Posted on 11/26/2006 7:08:37 PM PST by NormsRevenge
NEW YORK - Does money buy happiness? It's sometimes said that scientists have found no relationship between money and happiness, but that's a myth, says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener.
The connection is complex, he says. But in fact, very rich people rate substantially higher in satisfaction with life than very poor people do, even within wealthy nations, he says.
"There is overwhelming evidence that money buys happiness," said economist Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England. The main debate, he said, is how strong the effect is.
Oswald recently reported a study of Britons who won between $2,000 and $250,000 in a lottery. As a group, they showed a boost in happiness averaging a bit more than 1 point on a 36-point scale when surveyed two years after their win, compared to their levels two years before they won.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel-Prize winner and Princeton economist, and colleagues recently declared that the notion that making a lot of money will produce good overall mood is "mostly illusory."
They noted that in one study, people with household incomes of $90,000 or more were only slightly more likely to call themselves "very happy" overall than were people from households making $50,000 to $89,999. The rates were 43 percent versus 42 percent, respectively. (Members of the high-income group were almost twice as likely to call themselves "very happy" as people from households with incomes below $20,000.)
But other studies, rather than asking for a summary estimate of happiness, follow people through the day and repeatedly record their feelings. These studies show less effect of income on happiness, Kahneman and colleagues said.
There is still another twist to the money-happiness story. Even though people who make $150,000 are considerably happier than those who make $40,000, it's not clear why, says psychologist Richard E. Lucas of Michigan State University.
Does money make you happier? Or does being happier in the first place allow you to earn more money later, maybe by way of greater creativity or energy? Or does some other factor produce both money and happiness? There's evidence for all three interpretations, Lucas says.
In any case, researchers say any effect of money on happiness is smaller than most daydreamers assume.
"People exaggerate how much happiness is bought by an extra few thousand," Oswald said. "The quality of relationships has a far bigger effect than quite large rises in salary.... It's much better advice, if you're looking for happiness in life, to try to find the right husband or wife rather than trying to double your salary."
Honestly, it is usually much harder to find the right person and to be that right person for them.
That said, the very best investment is in such a relationship. Money can always be had if you are willing to work.
Happiness measurement unit is called a dollar. I've been low on the dollar scale, and have been higher - and higher was certainly happier.
Right now, I don't anyone anything. And I'm content with that. But if I made a lot of money and I owed more than I make, I'd be pretty unpappy.
Now that my rant is over...
Money is good, but it isn't the be-all and end-all. People need to sort this out for themselves.
Pretty unHappy, too.
Duh. Who needs a "scientific study"? People who can pay their mortgage (or rent) and still have money left over for food and a car (or whatever) are always going to be happier than people who can't.
Someone who makes $500,000/yr. and is hopelessly in debt isn't going to be as happy as someone who makes $40,000/yr. and has learned to live on it.
I'd be pretty happy if I got a ton of funding to conduct a stupid study like this.
I have been both. What money buys you is peace of mind that you won't go homeless or starve any time soon. This does wonders to your stress level. If also gives you choices. If a boss annoys you and you have a bit of money in the bank and have kept up with your marketable skills, you can go find another job and pull yourself out of a bad situation instead of staying miserable at your job.
"husband or wife"
and, not or in that case
Being a two time gigolo still won't make you POTUS though.
exactly! who needs a study?!
isn't it just common sense that someone who can afford to take a sick day when they have the flu will be happier than someone who has to drag themselves into work because they can't afford to lose the money?
isn't someone who knows that they can pay for their child to have decent medical help happier than one who can't?
I know most would be happier if they could afford:
college education for kids, opposed to not.
decent house, opposed to not.
heat, opposed to not.
a car that doesn't leave you stranded, opposed to not.
the knowledge that you can retire when the time comes and not have to choose between food or meds.
money buys alot of happiness and alot of piece of mind. It reduces your stress and allows a person to take care of themselves in a way that most can't.
I always look to the long time rich and famous....isn't it funny how most of them live to be in their 90's and playing golf right up to the end??
Money does buy happiness....what it CAN'T buy is LOVE.
A positive attitude is the key to success. Negativity, pessimism, cynicism and envy will keep you down.
"Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars."
-- Hobart Brown.
Depends. When one's heart transplant is priced at 9.5 million, the happiness differential suddenly becomes more noticeable.
Oh, but it does buy lovin'... :P
Money does not 'buy happiness'. Love and family come first. What money does is give you fewer worries and more peace of mind.
That can certainly help you be happier but wealth in itself does not bring happiness.
You know, I think back on some of my happier memories, and the least of which wasn't driving from California to Virginia, sleeping in a tent or in the back seat of my car, cooking whatever was on sale in the grocery store by a campfire along the way, going wherever the wind blew me... A cheap hotel room along the way here or there to shower. Pulling up next to the big rigs in my little Jetta and calling it a night, the desert stars twinkling over the dash.
Life is what you make of it, and happiness is a choice.
Those who are happiest with money use it to buy freedom. Those who aren't all too often imprison themselves with it.
That said, finding the right gal that fits perfectly under your arm and smiles the whole way doesn't hurt, either.