More Money, More Happiness

More research on the economics of happiness

Money HappinessCredit: lodrakon: Dreamstime"I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better,” the vaudevillian Sophie Tucker quipped. Tucker’s witticism will not strike most of us as controversial. Yet some really smart people are anxious to persuade the rest of us that more money can’t buy us more happiness. Back in 1974, the economist Richard Easterlin famously argued that increasing average income did not raise average well-being. Later research agrees, noting the apparent “‘paradox’ of substantial real income growth in Western countries over the last fifty years, but without any corresponding rise in reported happiness levels.” Basically, the argument is that as people grow richer they adapt to their new wealth and fall back to their earlier level of happiness; we’re stuck on a hedonic treadmill in which amassing wealth turns out to be an empty endeavor.

Two economists at the University of Michigan, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, reject the Easterlin Paradox. Their new article, published in the May American Economic Review—argues that more money does buy more happiness. As evidence, the two compare happiness measures between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor people within countries.

Even before the Stevenson and Wolfers paper, most researchers retreated from Easterlin’s sweeping assertion that increasing average income will not increase average well-being. Instead they argue that higher income is associated with higher subjective well-being until “basic needs” have been met, at which point the Easterlin Paradox kicks in. For example, a 2008 study in the Journal of Economic Literature argues that “greater economic prosperity at some point ceases to buy more happiness.” So what is the point at which more money no longer buys more happiness? In 2003, the economist Richard Layard compared happiness and per capita incomes between countries and concluded that the turning point came when a country has over $15,000 per head. He bumped the happiness satiation threshold up in his 2005 book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, finding that “for countries above $20,000 per head, additional income is not associated with extra happiness.” 

Stevenson and Wolfers parsed per capita income and well-being as measured by the Gallup World Survey for 155 countries. Gallup measures happiness in two ways. In one poll it asks people to rank their happiness on a 10-rung life satisfaction ladder, in which the bottom rung is the worst possible life and top rung is the best. In the second survey, people are asked on a 10-point scale how satisfied they are with their lives as a whole these days.

The researchers also probe to see if there is a break point at various income levels, and if the happiness gradient flattens, as Easterlin Paradox advocates suggest, as income rises. Stevenson and Wolfers found “no evidence of a satiation point”: As the rich get richer, they get happier. Stevenson and Wolfers also found that each percent increase in income raises measured well-being by a similar amount. So whatever an increase in happiness doubling income from $5,000 to $10,000 yields, one can expect a roughly similar boost in satisfaction when income doubles from $50,000 to $100,000.

Income and well-being: within-country comparisons

                  (25 most populous countries; Gallup World Poll, Dec. 2007)

Stevenson and Wolfers also concluded that within countries, rich people are happier than poor people. Back in 1974, Easterlin looked at Gallup’s happiness data by income in the United States. In 1963, 59 percent of people earning more than $15,000 per year ($115,000 today) said that they were very happy. This rose to 67 percent in 1966, but by 1970 it had fallen to 56 percent. Indeed, the percentage of Americans at all levels of income who claimed to be very happy dropped from 47 percent in 1963 to 38 percent in 1970, although per capita GDP had increased from $20,000 to $24,500. (Elsewhere Stevenson and Wolfers have suggested that social and demographic upheavals in the late 20th century America slowed the increase in the already high average level of happiness even as per capita income rose. Interestingly, they find that the happiness gaps between whites and blacks and between men and women has narrowed since the 1970s.) The general trend still seems to upward: The 2007 Gallup poll—before the financial crisis—found that 53 percent of all Americans counted themselves very happy, four points higher than the 1966 high cited by Easterlin in 1974.

Measuring subjective well-being can, well, be subjective. After all, there is a difference between: “How satisfied are you with your life?” and “How happy are you these days?” And this just what the Gallup data cited by Stevenson and Wolfers shows. Of those Americans making between $75,000 and $100,000, 69 percent are “very satisfied” with their lives, compared to 60 percent who are “very happy.” For the record, 100 percent of the 8 fortunate folks making over $500,000 per year in survey reported being both very happy and very satisfied. On the other hand, only 45 percent of folks making between $20,000 and $30,000 are very satisfied, and 43 percent reported being very happy, and of those making below $10,000 are 35 percent are very happy and 24 percent are very satisfied.

So what kind of “happiness” is more money buying; good moods or life satisfaction, or both? An intriguing 2010 study by Princeton University researchers Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman used data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 U.S. residents, to get at this question. They report that daily experienced happiness—lower stress, not feeling blue, a positive affect, and so on—tops out at an annual income of around $75,000. Deaton and Kahneman speculate, “Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”

Deaton and Kahneman also cite a 2010 study in Psychological Science suggesting that “money impairs people’s ability to savor everyday positive emotions and experiences.” In one part of the study, researchers recruited subjects for a supposed chocolate taste-test experiment. While filling out a questionnaire, half were exposed to a picture of money and the control group half to a neutral photo. Those who glimpsed the money wolfed down their chocolates in 32 seconds, whereas control group members spent 45 seconds enjoying their morsels. The researchers conclude, “Our findings provide evidence for the provocative and intuitively appealing—yet previously untested—notion that having access to the best things in life may actually undermine one’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.” Perhaps so, but I still enjoy quaffing 18-year-old Laphroaig more than the cheap White Horse blend I used gulp down in my penurious twenties.

Nevertheless, Deaton and Kahneman agree with Stevenson and Wolfers that more money evidently enables people to buy the experiences and conveniences that increase overall life satisfaction. There is no income threshold when it comes to procuring more of this kind of happiness. It is certainly wonderful and valuable to enjoy the moment, but real and lasting pleasure comes from a life well-lived. More money can’t guarantee a satisfying life, but research shows that it sure does help.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    Arthur: Have you ever been on a yacht?

    Linda: No, is it wonderful?

    Arthur: It doesn't suck.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Leela: Bender! Romance isn't about money.
    Bender: Oh, so it's just coincidence that Zoidberg is desperately poor and miserably lonely? Please!
    Leela: For your information, it's because he's hideous.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Rich assholes remain assholes. This I have learned.

  • ||

    ...that's a great irrelevant point.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's not irrelevant. Assholes are generally miserable. Acquiring a money bath doesn't stop the assholery or the misery.

    And nice people who get rich usually stay nice. The thinking to the contrary comes from watching too many movies.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm an asshole and I'm not miserable.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, you are. Stop interfering with my narrative.

  • sarcasmic||

    And I know several nice people who are miserable due to constantly being taken advantage of by assholes like me.

  • Almanian!||

    But everyone else is. Thanks a lot, asshole.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I'm an asshole and I'm wonderfully happy.

    I make a damn good living. I drive an awesome car. I have an awesome wife, a nice house.

    I'm generally considered an asshole because I don't give a fuck what people think of me. That doesn't make me miserable, it makes me very very happy.

    I used to be a nice guy and I was miserable. Once I stopped caring about other people's opinions, I became happy, but an asshole.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Why should I believe anything you say? You're an asshole.

  • $park¥||

    I knew it, I'm surrounded by assholes!

  • ||

    Keep firing, assholes!

  • Loki||

    I knew it, I'm surrounded by assholes!

    Of course you are, this is a libertarian website.

    I would say "Keep firing, assholes!" but some asshole beat me to it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why should I believe anything you say? You're an asshole.

    You should believe me precisely because I'm an assholes. Assholes tend to be honest. That's part of what makes them assholes. They tell the truth even when it is offensive, disturbing, or otherwise unwanted.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Assholes aren't honest. They're assholes.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Are you sure you aren't just a dick?

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Why should I believe anything you say? You're an asshole.

    Well, a benefit of being an asshole is that I don't give a fuck if you believe me.

  • ||

    It's assholes all the way down.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    It's the H&R comments section... What else would there be here?

  • $park¥||

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Fuck you, Sparky. I didn't even click on the damn thing and now it's stuck in my head.

    Off to the AM links to listen to some metal so I can wash that crap out of my brainpan.

    God, michael stipe makes me want to punch things.

  • ||

  • Dennis Webb||

    You have it exactly right. Most people don't change much according to their income level. When I was 20 I spent a year driving a delivery truck, delivering dry cleaning to people whose incomes ranged from upper middle class to very wealthy. I had the usual expectations, picked up from TV and movies, that the wealthy would treat me with contempt, or simply pretend I didn't exist. But I experienced the exact opposite. They were always kind and considerate to me, stopping to talk to me, offering me cool drinks on hot days, etc.

  • prolefeed||

    But are they HAPPY rich assholes? That's the point in contention.

  • ||

    Leela: Let Mom buy the company! We all wanna be filthy, stinking rich!

    Zoidberg: Trust me, two out of three doesn't cut it!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Sure it buys happiness. Why else would the government want to take so much of it?

  • Paul.||

    Thread winner.

  • Sevo||

    'I been rich and I been poor...'

  • CatoTheElder||

    "Tucker’s witticism will not strike most of us as controversial."

    Not if one has ever been poor, but lots of Americans who have never had that experience romanticize poverty.

  • Sevo||

    "Not if one has ever been poor, but lots of Americans who have never had that experience romanticize poverty."

    I'm not joking.
    'Way back when, it was sweat equity to start a company. You can put a sandwich together pretty cheaply and it's a good thing.
    A date? Ha!

  • Paul.||

    You're on to something.

    Just like lots of Americand who have never had the experience of wealth romanticize being rich.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Yeah, let me see. Vacation trip, staying at a noisy, cockroach infested Motel 6, or being on a private island...

  • CatoTheElder||

    Flying in my private jet on my schedule ...

    or flying commercial, going through the humiliation of TSA, standing in lines and flying on somebody else's schedule.

  • Brett L||

    You're breaking the first rule of staying ricH: If it flys, floats or fucks, rent don't buy.

  • ||

    That's a good way to work towards getting rich too.

  • ||

    I always thought the notion of wealth not buying happiness was absurd. A judeo-christian ethos that somehow implies that being poor is nobel.

    I find that a sick cop out making the lack of success acceptable. It also reduces our standard of living by shaming the producers into producing less.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I will say this. I'd prefer insane wealth without any fame. Fame is a pain.

  • ||

    Yeah agree. I CAN see how being famous could suck. No desire along those lines.

  • prolefeed||

    Famous might help getting laid.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Being fabulously wealthy certainly will help you get laid.

  • Irish||

    Famous might help getting laid.

    Being super rich will take care of that regardless. Walk into a bar and start raining hundreds and I think you'll get laid just fine.

  • ||

    A friend of mine had to transfer a ton of money through his bank account while paying off a loan or something. He printed out a bunch of bank receipts. He and a buddy then hit a bar. They'd chat up girls who were moderately interested and then play at fumbling and looking for a piece of paper to write their numbers on only to find the bank slip.*

    They got calls back from most of the women they talked to that night.

    *This was just before cell phones were ubiquitous.

  • Irish||

    Women love a wealthy man in the same way that men love a hot girl. You see some straight up schlubs who end up with someone who would normally be out of their league entirely because they have a job that pays well.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Once, many years ago, I was flirting with this cute girl at the store I was working on. During the flirting, a MILF came in the store and started smirking at me. After the cute girl left, the MILF came up to me and offered this free advice.

    "You want to have any woman you want? Make lots of money."

    She then winked at me, walked out of the store and got into her brand new Mercedes.

  • CE||

    So she was a whore, got it.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    So she was a whore, got it.

    Oh, no doubt she was a gold digging whore. I just thought the anecdote was amusing and relevant to the "rich guys get laid" subthread.

    Personally, I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a woman who was just after my money, but I certainly wouldn't have turned down sex because of it.

  • Paul.||

    Unattractive men of mediocre wealth or ambition are screwed, and not in a good way.

  • Sevo||

    "Walk into a bar and start raining hundreds and I think you'll get laid just fine."

    'No, I'm not really this tall. I'm sitting on my wallet'.

  • ||

    Just get married. You won't care anymore.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    TWSS

  • Paul.||

    Nor will you have any wealth.

  • Dennis Webb||

    I can certainly understand how fame would be a pain. But I once saw an interview with actor Adam West, in which the interviewer raised this same issue. West, however, positively beamed at the mention of fame, and said that it was great! He said that wherever he went, perfect strangers would listen to any opinion held on any subject, no matter how banal, and think that he was always right and held great wisdom. He said he loved that.

  • Dallas H.||

    As Bill Murray says,"If you think you want to be rich and famous, try just being rich first and see if that doesn't just about cover it."

  • Paul.||

    I love Bill Murray.

  • ||

    that somehow implies that being poor is nobel.

    Nobel was anything but poor.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And he blew up shit.

  • Sevo||

    That's how he got rich!

  • Paul.||

    And famous!

  • ||

    Exactly. This is pure, unadulterated asceticism. Enjoyment of life is bad! Having money is bad! Oh yeah? Why does everyone want it then?

  • Pro Libertate||

    See, when I'm insanely wealthy, I'll be more spiritual as I sit alone atop my colossus of, well, myself, that doubles as a private space elevator. I will think truly noble thoughts all the time, trust me.

  • ||

    When I do, all my thoughts will be about your mom. Just like now.

  • Paul.||

    I thought all your thoughts were about my mom.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Bender: Hmm ... it's a good start. Uh, yeah, it's definitely big alright. I just wonder if it's too big, y'know? I mean, are people gonna be remembering me or the statue?

    High Priest: But, sire, we made it to your exact specifications.

    Bender: Too exact if you ask me. Tear it down and try again. But this time don't embarrass yourselves.

  • John||

    At least judeo Christian ethics offers a reward in the next life. What does secular prog ethics offer? I preferred spot in the community mass grave?

  • ||

    John, you go ahead and live this life for your reward in the next one.

    I'll enjoy the only one there is.

  • John||

    Can stop being earnest atheist for a moment and not miss the joke? I thought it was a pretty good one not an invitation to discuss the life worth living.

  • ||

    sorry

  • Paul.||

    Gotta side with John on this one. It was a pretty snappy comment he made.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What does secular prog ethics offer?

    Smug self satisfaction and feelings of superiority.

  • PH2050||

    The fact you think bodies will be buried and not recycled into protein gruel for the collective amuses me.

  • ||

    This is pure, unadulterated asceticism

    SMBC agrees with you Epi

  • ||

    *noble

    I suck.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Xeon?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Argon?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Krypton?

  • Sevo||

    GOLD!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    FIRST, practice the Christian virtues. If you're still poor, at least you have the consolation of being virtuous. Yea you!

    But if you *don't* practice the Christian virtues - if you are guilty of sloth (not taking jobs you deem beneath you) pride (same), lust (having kids outside of wedlock), wrath (pissing off your boss and losing your job), etc., then don't blame Judeo-Christian morality for your problems.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    FIRST, practice the Christian virtues. If you're still poor, at least you have the consolation of being virtuous. Yea you!

    Thanks, but I think I'll stick with my secular values and still be happy.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm simply narrowing the issue to people who practice the necessary virtues but don't manage to get money. These folks can legitimately claim that there's more important things than money.

    The attack on Judeo-Christian virtues (see above) pressuposed people like this - hardworking, loyal to their spouses, etc., but still having difficulties.

    For those who *haven't* observed the Judeo-Christian virtues, the attack on such virtues rings hollow.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I was responding to F d'A's Randian rant:

    "I always thought the notion of wealth not buying happiness was absurd. A judeo-christian ethos that somehow implies that being poor is nobel."

    The ideal he denounces presumes that the poor person has avoided the deadly sins outlines above (plus others). In the USA, avoiding these sins an lead to material prosperity, making it unnecessary to posit a rigid contrast between being well-off and being Christian.

    But looking at the world as a whole, yes, you find cases of people who practice the Christian virtues but still remain poor. For such folks, yes, it's a consolation that money isn't everything.

  • ||

    Actually, my "rant" was about society claiming people should be ashamed of wealth. THAT, is nonsense. People should be proud to be wealthy and a society the claims otherwise is deranged.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It's not the wealth per se that is the problem, it's the attitude of some people that "I got my wealth because I'm so awesome, and no way will I share my good fortune with the wretched of the earth!" It is this Dives-like attitude which Christianity rebukes, not the act of earning money by superior skill or work ethic.

  • ||

    1. Bullshit. Spent every Sunday of my youth listening to some asshole on a pulpit telling me money is the root of all evil. Wealth is the root of all good.

    2. People, in general, DO obtain wealth by being awesome. They create. They bring into existence that which previously did not exist. They SHOULD feel good about themselves and anyone who thinks different is an asshole.

    3. I find it an abomination that there are those who feel I should feel obligated to give away wealth to those who haven't earned it. If I choose to, of my own free will that is one thing. But anyone who tries to force or guilt me into it can kiss my pink ass. You want to help the "wretched", don't give them money, give them a job. And who gives them a job? Wealthy businessmen. True heros!

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Precisely my thoughts, FdA.

    I, too, spent every Sunday being told that it's evil to gain wealth and godly to remain poor. Fuck that nonsense.

    I know that I gained my wealth by being awesome. I'm not rich by any stretch, but as I said before, I went from destitutely poor to upper middle class on my own merit. The people I left behind because they were too "virtuous" to try to get ahead can be happy in their poverty if that's what suits them. But, don't tell me I'm a bad person because I don't feel the need to share my wealth with people who didn't earn it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Spent every Sunday of my youth listening to some asshole on a pulpit telling me money is the root of all evil."

    If that's what he said, he wasn't correctly stating the relevant passage in 1 Tim 6:10 -

    "For the *love* of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains." (NAB) [emphasis added]

    It doesn't say it's wrong to get ahead - people who observe the Christian commandments are more likely to have a decent living than those who don't - scratch a pauper and you'll probably find someone who goes around being lazy (sloth), mouths off to bosses (wrath), has kids out of wedlock (lust), etc.

    Likewise, if someone unjustly takes your stuff, that person (whether he's a private operator or acting on behalf of the government) is defying the commandment against theft. Curiously, as Christianity recedes into the background, more people seem to have developed the idea that theft is OK so long as it's sanctioned by the political process, which is *not* a Christian idea.

    The Christian doctrine on the obligations of the owners of wealth makes sense if you accept that you and your wealth were both created by God, and that He expects some return to Him in exchange for the stuff He lets you have. If you're not into acknowledging the existence of God, then there's a bit of a conflict of perspectives.

  • prolefeed||

    It's not the wealth per se that is the problem, it's the attitude of some people that "I got my wealth because I'm so awesome, and no way will I share my good fortune with the wretched of the earth!"

    Who cares what their attitude is, if they created value for others in order to acquire the money?

    If you have money, you either spend it -- thus creating good fortune for those selling what you're buying -- or you invest it, thus creating wealth and value for others (unless you piss it all away on bad investments that go sour.)

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.3.13 @ 3:59PM |#
    ..."which Christianity rebukes,"...
    EvH, you should keep your fave mythology to yourself.
    Outside of the study of myths (which this isn't) whatever you claim for is is just so much mythical bull-bleep.
    Thank you.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I'm simply narrowing the issue to people who practice the necessary virtues but don't manage to get money. These folks can legitimately claim that there's more important things than money.

    Very true. It's not specific to Judeo-Christian values, but I get why you point it out.

    The attack on Judeo-Christian virtues (see above) pressuposed people like this - hardworking, loyal to their spouses, etc., but still having difficulties.

    I guess I didn't see it as an attack on ALL Judeo-Christian values. Just the parts that make the claim that poverty is a virtue and better than being wealthy.

    Trust me, as someone who has been destitutely poor and worked my ass off to get where I am today, there is nothing noble or virtuous about poverty.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Not all countries are as fortunate as the US, and even here, there are hardworking, sober, faithful men and women whose material success is not proportional to their virtue, and who can contrast their condition to the heirs and heiresses who get a better stake in life.

    Unlike the socialists and proggies, the Christian teaching doesn't urge these have-nots to steal from the more fortunate, but to accept that there are going to be disparities not based on pure virtue.

    As Thomas Sowell points out, free-market economists acknowledge that if the distribution of the world's goods were the product of some human conspiracy, it would be horribly unjust. But by teaching people to accept this, and not to steal or plunder the more fortunate out of sheer envy, Christianity does a good service to property rights.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I'm not sure exactly how you're using the term 'virtuous'. But if we take the dictionary definition which means "of high moral standards or chaste", it's not a good determination of how successful one should be.

    hard work, determination, skill, competence... These are good indicators of how materially successful one should be.

    You assert in response to FdA that Christianity does not rebuke the actual collection of wealth. While this may be true for your particular brand of Christianity, it most certainly is not a universal truth, or even the majority.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Jesus Christ Himself had a job - he was a carpenter, presumably depending on his reputation as a skilled worker to get repeat business.

    His foster father had the same job, as acknowledged in his feast day two days ago:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_fat.....le_en.html

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.3.13 @ 6:44PM |#
    "Jesus Christ Himself had a job..."

    There is not one shred of evidence that junior ever existed, so comments on 'what he did' or 'what he said' are comments about your ability to fantasize.
    You might keep your mythology to yourself instead of making it obvious that you have a bit of a problem with reality.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    I think that what EvH is trying to do is simply argue that "A judeo-christian ethos that somehow implies that being poor is nobel" is a misrepresentation of the Judeo-Christian ethos.

    But, by all means, miss the point.

  • ||

    There is not one shred of evidence that junior ever existed

    You could count roughly on one hand the number of experts who don't believe there was a historical Jesus of some sort. Acting like a cunt doesn't make your ignorance of current thought on the subject any more authoritative.

    In any case, even if there was no historical Jesus, the fact that the character was created with a trade by the fabricators of the religion and its origin story lends some credibility to Eduard's contention that Christian theology respects work and trade (although I don't actually agree with that contention based on other writings in the Bible and my experiences with organized religion).

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "A judeo-christian ethos that somehow implies that being poor is nobel."

    Don't forget the Eastern religions and their western, New Age permutations.
    The whole point of Buddhism and Hinduism was to keep people rooted in their social classes by way of spiritual obligation and virtuous poverty to preserve the feudalistic status quo.
    Small wonder such belief systems tend to appeal so highly so socialist and hippie types, and tend to get a pass when they talk about the Opium of the Masses.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Here's a difference between the eastern, reincarnation-based religion and Christianity - Christianity posits a Creator-God who created man in His own image and give men (and women) only one life to live, without any do-overs, and without any previous lives to excuse social inequities in this life. Also, by positing man being created in the image of the Creator, the Judeo-Christian religions teach that man himself can be creative and invent and make things.

  • A Serious Man||

    They say the best things in life are free but you can give them to the birds and bees.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Money don't get everything it's true What it don't get, I can't use

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Stop wasting my time
    You know what I want
    You know what I need
    Or maybe you don't

    Do I have to come right flat out and tell you everything?
    Gimme some money, gimme some money

  • CatoTheElder||

    Best documentary ever!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Ahem! Rockumentary.

  • sarcasmic||

    How can anyone be happy knowing that someone else is richer then themselves? That's just not fair.

    /libtard

  • ||

    "They say you can't buy happiness, so I guess I'll have to rent it..."

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Weird Al FTW.

    I think I've quoted that line reflexively every time I hear the "money can't buy happiness" line.

  • Brett L||

    Best advice I ever got: "There's no shame in being poor, but its damned inconvenient." Money may not directly buy happiness, but it sure does give you a lot more opportunities for doing things besides going to work, walking around your neighborhood, and reading in the library.

  • Drake||

    Having money means less worry. That isn't bliss, but it's nice.

  • Paul.||

    According to liberals, it also equals more freedom!

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Money can't buy you happiness - Poverty on the other hand can't buy you fuck all. Choose wisely.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    A more correct version:

    Money does not guarantee happiness. A shortage of money almost certainly guarantees unhappiness.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Money is often necessary and sufficient to solve many of life's problems. Therefore, people who have money have a narrower range of potential problems.

    If one has a problem than can be solved with money, one doesn't really have a problem.

    The big problems in life, however, cannot be solved with money. Even so, they can often be postponed or attenuated with money.

  • Almanian!||

    I dunno. I do think The Great Despot was about right when he said (roughly), "Most people are about as happy as they decide to be."

    Except his wife, the Depressive Mary Todd, of course...

  • Alice Bowie||

    Of course more money buys happiness if happiness is things that can be purchased with money.

    However, I know way to many people that work 12-15hr days, make over $300k, and are frugal so that they can have more money. I accuse these people of squandering their youth.

    Being Young, Healthy, and content is priceless. No facelift, vitamin, or therapist can be purchased with money to give the same effect.

  • Virginian||

    However, I know way to many people that work 12-15hr days, make over $300k, and are frugal so that they can have more money. I accuse these people of squandering their youth.
    ____________

    Yeah they're going to retire at 50 to a big house in their favorite place. That's just insanity right there.

    Sometimes I forget how stupid a progressive can be.

  • Sevo||

    "Sometimes I forget how stupid a progressive can be."

    They're only too happy to remind you.

  • Irish||

    It's really going to suck when they can buy whatever the hell they want for their entire retirement without having to ever worry about money.

    Truly, I'd rather be 25 and poor in an Occupy Wall Street tent. Those people have it going on.

  • Zeb||

    There are situations in between working all the time and being a dirty bum, you know.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And be able to ensure their children have opportunity, etc. How awful.

  • Zeb||

    But then you're 50. It's not as if that is ancient, but there are a lot of things you can do in your 20s and 30s that aren't as easy or fun when you are a bit older.
    But then again, some people like to work that hard and get a lot out of it.

    Sometimes I forget how stupid a progressive can be.

    I don't think what he says is particularly stupid. Just missing that different people value different things.

  • Virginian||

    She. Not he.

    I mean god yes it would be nice if we could live backwards and work from the time we are old to the time we hit middle age, then retire and live comfortably through our physical primes.

    But that's not reality.

  • Virginian||

    The issue I have is her characerization of living frugally and saving as "wasting their youth"

    It's the same stupidity where people's retirement savings are now considered to be "idle money not doing anything" in the minds of people like Ezra Klein.

  • Loki||

    It's the same stupidity where people's retirement savings are now considered to be "idle money not doing anything" in the minds of people like Ezra Klein.

    Which if the money is invested through a 401k or IRA then it's not actually idle either. Just goes to show that people like Ezra "punchable face" Klein are double plus stupid.

  • Zeb||

    The idea that invested savings, or the wealth of rich people, is just sitting around is a really, really stupid one. Any money that is not cash in your mattress is going to be invested. So all of that money is out there in the economy, helping to start and grow companies that employ people and create wealth. It seems like a lot of people think that savings and wealth are like Scrooge McDuck's money bin.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    It's almost like these "economists" don't understand how the economy works.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, it amazes me that I never hear anyone point this out.

  • Dennis Webb||

    I would add to this that the very wealthy, once they have taken care of their earthly desires and provided for their kids, generally distribute what's left to society in general through philanthropy.

  • ||

    Yes but there can be some balance. Yeah I'm working a lot of hours and putting a lot of money into retirement but that doesn't mean I'm going back to drinking keystone instead of the microbrews I want.

  • BakedPenguin||

    He. "Alice Bowie" was a fake rock star character of Cheech Marin's.

  • Zeb||

    That's what I thought.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Alice's comment pretty much described my career, though I didn't make quite so much in my youth. However, I did much more than just making money by working the long days, nights, and weekends. I acquired a certain portfolio of skills, knowledge, and discipline that could only be obtained by hard work and lots of it.

    In fact, I was frugal and I did retire at 50.

    I still consult from time to time, charging an obscene daily rate for the skills and knowledge I acquired during my career. I don't do it so much to make the money as to maintain the relationships that I have in my industry. I sometimes turn down work if it doesn't seem like it will be fun.

    So I've no regrets over squandered youth. I hope Alice will feel the same way if she has to eat spam rather than steak in her 60s. I wouldn't, but we all have to make our own choices.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    And Alice never to got to goad anyone to lay waste to Carthage!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Carthage deserved what it got for being there. I mean, what does a convenient seaport think it's doing dominating mediterranian trade!

  • Rasilio||

    " I didn't make quite so much in my youth. However, I did much more than just making money by working the long days, nights, and weekends. I acquired a certain portfolio of skills, knowledge, and discipline that could only be obtained by hard work and lots of it."

    So you're telling us you have a particular set of skills?

  • Fate||

    Skills that make him a nightmare for people like you...

  • Calidissident||

    Eh, I see her point. I'd prefer to make good, but not great money, while having reasonable hours, than make a ton of money with an insane workload. But that's just me.

  • prolefeed||

    If her point is, "Don't be so busy making money when you're young to have fun and actually enjoy your youth -- balance work and play" -- then I agree with that.

    Some people seem to forget the point of earning money is to get and enjoy the things you want, rather than to just earn for the sake of earning.

  • Xenocles||

    I've worked 12-15 hour days, and there's no amount of money you could promise me afterward that could make me do that continuously until I turned 50. I'd be lucky to survive that long.

  • kinnath||

    The difference between a little money and no money at all is enormous and can shatter the world; and the difference between a little money and an enormous amount of money is very slight and that, also, can shatter the world.

    -- Thornton Wilder

  • Sevo||

    Culled from the link-comments over in the 'mountain-climbing-traffic-jam' news:

    "Who cares who did what, this is just terrible, but it comes as no surprise alas. This is what happens when you turn a hugely spiritual place into a money-making trashland."

    'Course, getting there for anyone not a Sherpa ain't cheap. And Sherpas now get to eat something other than rocks and lichen.

  • kinnath||

    faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money

  • Paul.||

    If I could have the middle two, I'd forego the outer two.

  • Jon Lester||

    I'm not the personality type that cares anything about what other people would call "nice things," but I do like being able to pick up and go somewhere if I want, or spend what I must for a collectible record or something. I'm also very measurably less happy when I'm too broke for beer and smokes, or short of what I need to take care of something urgent.

  • Lord Humungus||

    money does make niggling problems go away. And that's worth the peace of mind right there.

  • Zeb||

    That's the thing right there. Money certainly can't buy you happiness, but it can help eliminate a lot of things that cause unhappiness.

  • ||

    Nevertheless, Deaton and Kahneman agree with Stevenson and Wolfers that more money evidently enables people to buy the experiences and conveniences that increase overall life satisfaction.

    Well if that's the case, maybe I should have listened to Kathy's roommate's cousin's classmate and gotten than job that paid $8892 a month for a 19 hour workweek.

  • Nazdrakke||

    The money v. happiness issue has a lot less to do with dollars than it does with the expectations v. reality one.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Might not buy happiness, but it sure can remove a lot of worries and sources of unhappiness.

    Hard to be happy when you don't know if you can make the next rent payment or fed the family.

  • ||

    My wife and I are very frugal, and live well within our moderate means. I don't really have a desire for fancy cars or houses. All I really need to be happy is a comfortable bed, a great gaming PC, and microbrews.

  • $park¥||

    QFT. I've never been abjectly poor and I'm only solid middle-class now, but I'd much rather be where I am now than where I was. And another bump or two up the pay scale would probably set me right in my idea of the sweet spot.

  • ||

    And just to emphasize how frugal we are, even on my favorite stuff: I got Skyrim as a Christmas gift a few months ago when it was on sale for $30. I waited an entire extra YEAR for that thing.

  • $park¥||

    That's what I generally do too, I think I've only ever bought three or four games at full price the day they came out.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    o/~ You're dead for a real long time
    You just can't prevent it
    So if money can't buy happiness,
    I guess I'll have to rent it! o/~

  • ||

  • Stormy Dragon||

    What, you expect me to read all the other comments before I respond? ;P

  • John||

    It is not the money or the possessions that make you unhappy. It is the desire to possess them. Happiness is all about expectations. If someone gave me an Aston Martin tomorrow, I would be ecstatic for a while. But after a few months or years it would just be the car I drove. I have stayed in five star hotels. But the best most blissful night of sleep I have ever had was on a cot after showering for the first time in 40+ days. Your state of contentment and happiness doesn't depend on the objective luxury of your life but the luxury of your life right now relative to what it was shortly before. If it is an improvement, you are generally happy. If it is the same, you are content and bored and take it for granted. If it is worse, you are unhappy. Even if they don't realize it, this is one of the reasons I think people climb mountains or subject themselves to hardship, the high of ending that hardship is quite intoxicating.

    So the key to contentment and happiness is being content with what you have at that time. In short, the problem is not having things. The problem is constantly wanting things and letting that want rule your life.

  • Irish||

    Very Zen, John. Very Zen.

  • John||

    The Buddhists were not far off. And Christian ethics is not much different in many ways. Christ never said everyone everywhere should give up their possessions. There were lots of people he spoke to that he never told that to. He told it to the rich guy, camel, eye of the needle, and all of that. But the point was not the possessions but that the person was letting his desire for material wealth rule is life. Christianity rejects greed not material possessions.

  • ||

    Sure. You have to enjoy Now, because that's all you really have.

  • Nazdrakke||

    +4 Noble Truths

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    *squints eyes* You sound poor.

  • $park¥||

    Very Nietzschean. Before you can reach the highest mountain you must first go through the deepest abyss.

  • KPres||

    "Your state of contentment and happiness doesn't depend on the objective luxury of your life but the luxury of your life right now relative to what it was shortly before."

    True for individualists, but collectivists measure themselves in relation to everybody else, and base their self-esteem on what other people think of them.

    That's why the suck.

  • CatoTheElder||

    That's why envy is the most powerful emotion that governs the collectivist.

    It's also envy is the only emotion that the ten commandments expressly forbids. I know the bible doesn't count for much in these parts, but Moses was on to something there. When one nurtures one's tendency to envy, one tends to become a collectivist because few make to the pinnacle of material acquisition. Collectivism of all sorts is an outright appeal to envy.

  • John||

    Absolutely. Envy makes you unhappy and wish harm on those around you. And once you have it, no amount of wealth or success will end it because there is always going to be someone who has more than you or something that you want. You could be the richest man in the world and still be miserable and rotten because some other man married a women you loved or you wife wasn't able to have children and others were.

    This is why the victim culture is so destructive. Rather than telling people to accept and move on from their misfortunes the victim culture tells them to dwell on and let their misfortunes define them. That is extremely unhealthy and a path to misery.

  • DarrenM||

    Collectivism of all sorts is an outright appeal to envy.

    Even in the most collectivist utopia, you would still have envy. The object of envy just changes.

  • CatoTheElder||

    ^ THIS ^

  • CE||

    In my limited personal experience, the first 30K a year I made increased my happiness exponentially. The second 30K a year increase bumped it up a little. Since then none of the 30K a year increases have increased my happiness much at all.

  • Brett L||

    Admit it, you have kids. So you're really just making that first 30K a year but living in a bigger house with a less fun car.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    STOP DESCRIBING MY LIFE!!!

  • Brett L||

    Hey, my first one is baking now. I'm, uh, streamlining my lifestyle in preparation of giving it 50% of my money and 100% of the gf's, who will take 49% of my money in exchange.

  • $park¥||

    Come on now, babies aren't that expensive. Plus they come with built in tax breaks.

  • Brett L||

    The gf appears to believe that the successful rearing of children requires a lot of stuff and several thousand dollars worth of upgrades to what is now "our" house. Of course, we'll need a newer bigger, more expensive house soon, too.

    Me, I think as long as I keep the kid away from live wires and lead paint chips, he or she will be just fine.

  • $park¥||

    And so, you have just stumbled across another big difference between men and women. You, of course, are correct. Trying to keep her from deploying the propellers will be harder than raising the kid.

  • Henry the Twooth||

    They are if they are also your retirement account.

  • ||

    Doctor's bills suck!

    Someone should make a law.....

  • John||

    The diminishing utility and value of money is very true and something that people forget. A hundred thousand dollars would be a lot of money to me. But to some people it is nothing but the cost of a decent hand of baccarat.

  • DarrenM||

    Since then none of the 30K a year increases have increased my happiness much at all.

    Ah. You wouldn't mind sending it to me, then.

  • ||

    Every once in a while someone here says something perfect. Most of the time when I catch it, it sticks with me. Later when I want to quote it I can never remember who said it.

    I am crediting whoever said this, they nailed it.

    Up to a point more money makes people happier. After that point it makes happy people happier, miserable people more miserable and weird people weirder.

  • ||

    And I just remembered another one from the commentariat here. Again, I dont remember who.

    Money cant buy happiness. But, it can buy bacon, and bacon makes me happy.

  • John||

    Money can't buy happiness but poverty can give a lot of misery for free. And that is very true. But on the other hand, I think to some degree happiness is a choice. I guarantee you that right now there are people living in third world countries in conditions I would consider horrible who are more happy and content than I am. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be even happier if they lived in the relative luxury I do. But they are still happier right now than I am. And to me that says happiness doesn't have a direct relationship to luxury.

  • Zeb||

    Indeed. There are a lot of paths to happiness and it has a lot more to do with the way you approach the world than anything material. Eliminating desire is probably just as good (if not better than) as getting the things you desire. But it's probably a lot easier for most people to work for the things they want than to learn how not to want them in the first place.

  • John||

    Or learn how to want and be happy with things they enjoy. Take work for example. If you satisfaction with your job depends upon the rewards and status it gives you, you will never be happy because there will always be some rewards or some status you don't have but want. If your satisfaction depends on the enjoyment you get out of actually doing it and let the rewards and status happen when they do, you probably will be happy because your doing the job is something you can control and an end itself.

  • Zeb||

    I could easily have gotten some fancy big city job out of college and be making 6 figures now, but I wanted to live close to where I grew up and have some land where I can put up buildings and cut down trees and shoot stuff with guns. IF I got some amazing offer where I could retire in 10 years, I'd probably go for it, but being where I am is worth more than a little more income. Though it would be nice if I'd had a raise in the past 5 years.

  • ||

    ^THIS^

    I would also add that expecting your hard work to automatically and definitely translate to rewards and status is a surefire way to remain unhappy.

  • John||

    You are correct. What you find out as you get out in the world is that the people who go to the top are almost thrust there by fate. I know plenty of smart, very hard working people who are very high up in the world and plenty who are not. I also know slugs who are at the top too. There doesn't seem to be a correlation. If you don't do anything, chances are you will be at the bottom. So if you work hard chances are you will achieve some success. But the concrete results of hard work will as they say "vary".

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    I would also add that expecting your hard work to automatically and definitely translate to rewards and status is a surefire way to remain unhappy.

    I see this problem more and more in today's society. Kids get out of college and are pissed they aren't making $150k at their first job.

    I had a co-worker that was fresh out of high school who found out that I made significantly more than him and complained loudly about it. I told him when he's got 10 years experience under his belt and 5 years with the company, always getting good reviews, then he would make that much. He just huffed and puffed and ended up quitting because the pay was "unfair".

    That guy will never be happy in a job. Even if he stays with a company long enough to get good pay, he'll still be looking at those that make more than him and think it's "unfair". This is why unions still have any members.

  • John||

    itsnotmeitsyou,

    What kids and sadly many adults don't realize is that most people are not that different. In a given business or office there are a lot of people who are competent and hard working. So which one goes up and which ones stay where they are is usually not determined by competence. They all can do the job. Who goes up is usually personality driven as much as anything. But people don't get that. They think that just because they are good they should be rewarded more than other people. Well, everyone here is good. If they weren't, they wouldn't have gotten the job.

  • ||

    Money cant buy happiness. But, it can buy bacon, and bacon makes me happy.

    I think Daniel Tosh said something similar like "Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a Jet Ski. Have you ever seen someone unhappy on a Jet Ski?"

  • Sordid Business||

    I am sure that, all other things being equal, wealth does create more happiness than poverty.

    That being said, I wouldn't want to be a single one of you assholes for any money.

    And finally, if anyone really thinks that rich old men never remember their impoverished youths (when their life was new and exciting and filled with possibilities) with an anguished sense of longing, they are as wrong as Joe Biden talking about....well, anything.

  • Sevo||

    "And finally, if anyone really thinks that rich old men never remember their impoverished youths (when their life was new and exciting and filled with possibilities) with an anguished sense of longing, they are as wrong as Joe Biden talking about.."
    Well, that's a hell of a generalization you got there. And I'm pretty sure there isn't a shred of evidence.
    Anecdotally, my memories are of missing the dates I couldn't afford when my life was 'filled with poverty'.

  • Sordid Business||

    What evidence do you want, a 'study' conducted by an expert on 'happiness' like Barry Schwartz?

    Yes it is an anecdotal statement, but then so are most philosophical statements about human nature. I am yet to see a study that can statistically quantify anything as amorphous as 'human nature' in a meaningful way.

    And if you can't get dates when you are poor, how do you know that the dates you get when you are wealthy aren't screwing Juan the cabana boy when you go to work?

    Finally (and anecdotally), I got laid when I was poor all the time. You just have to be charming and attractive.

  • Jolly Jingoist||

    I think it's silly to look at the upper class's happiness vs. the working class's happiness and conclude that the rich are happier because they are rich. As Charles Murray has pointed out (though not to illustrate this particular point), America has "come apart." The upper class differs dramatically in a whole host of ways from the working class.

    Furthermore, when it comes to this idea that you can measure happiness; keep in mind that happiness is in large part genetic.

    http://cogprints.org/767/

    One more thing I'd add is that happiness is contingent on values. If you decide that money is the most important thing in life, you're going to be upset if you don't get it.

  • Henry the Twooth||

    As Mr. Burns, of the Simpsons, said to Homer upon Homer's remark that Burns is the richest man Homer knows:

    "Ah, but I'd give it all up . . . for a penny more."

  • Henry the Twooth||

    Those who glimpsed the money wolfed down their chocolates in 32 seconds, whereas control group members spent 45 seconds enjoying their morsels. The researchers conclude, “Our findings provide evidence for the provocative and intuitively appealing—yet previously untested—notion that having access to the best things in life may actually undermine one’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.”

    This is an interesting result, but I think they are jumping to conclusions. What if they showed pictures of guns, starving children, etc.? If they have the same effect on chocolate consumption, then their conclusion is less tenable.

  • jwbatey||

    "The researchers also probe to see if there is a break point at various income levels, and if the happiness gradient flattens, as Easterlin Paradox advocates suggest, as income rises. Stevenson and Wolfers found no evidence of a satiation point”

    Note, the graph used directly below this quote does show a flattened curve. One axis is logaritmic.... graph it on a normal axis and it'll look to flatten around before $64k.

    The graph and article can both be correct due to different sources. Overall happiness in a society tends to flatten out (the graph comparing countries). Meanwhile, deltas between people within a country could be more robust.

    Unfortunately, this study is in the minority I think. Hedonic research agrees thatt more money leads to more happiness... but has robustly shown diminishing returns.

  • Dennis Webb||

    Deaton and Kahneman also cite a 2010 study in Psychological Science suggesting that “money impairs people’s ability to savor everyday positive emotions and experiences.” In one part of the study, researchers recruited subjects for a supposed chocolate taste-test experiment. While filling out a questionnaire, half were exposed to a picture of money and the control group half to a neutral photo. Those who glimpsed the money wolfed down their chocolates in 32 seconds, whereas control group members spent 45 seconds enjoying their morsels. The researchers conclude, “Our findings provide evidence for the provocative and intuitively appealing—yet previously untested—notion that having access to the best things in life may actually undermine one’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.”

    The above reminded me once more what BS artists sociologists are.

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    A pet peeve of mine is rich people who usually write career advice or, even worse, lifestyle career advice who talk about how they've evolved beyond caring about money. What they really mean is they've evolved beyond bragging about their money and now they want to brag about their moral superiority.

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  • Rethink||

    and yet no one asks, is happiness the goal of life? is it my goal in life? And if you say happiness is your goal and people ask you if you are happy, we have no fucking clue if you are lying to us or even lying to yourself.

    Happiness actually has been associated with selfish behavior. Assholes may really be happier, so good for you assholes of H&R. But maybe on your old age you will look back on a couple decades of wealth and 'happiness' and wonder what the fuck was the point of it all? There have been rich assholes ripping people off and living happily since the dawn of civilization, so if you were fortunate enough to live this live, I ask you; did your life have any meaning whatsoever?

    because what they have also found is that 'happiness' isnt even a good indicator of internal well-being. Happy people are the first to drop when the situation changes and the going gets tough.

    So it may be real easy for those of you to be happy driving your fancy car with your trophy wife right now, but you will have a moment when you meet some one who disregarded happiness and sought out meaning in their life. You will see, hear, and feel their calm confidence in the fact that they have lived their lives they wanted to live them. I sense none of this confidence from the self-proclaimed happy assholes commenting on here.

    And you see, I was once an asshole like you (still am, but a different kind). Then I found meaning, and I don't want to ever change back

  • Rethink||

    happiness is meaningless. Cognitively speaking, it is nothing but the indulgence of our desires

    but it is impossible for humanity to indulge all of its unlimited desires, no society could make most or even all of happy. So happiness as a universal goal fails miserably under the categorical imperative. This is even more true if money does buy happiness not in a material well-being sort of way, but a social-relativistic way (aka I'm happy because I drive a cool expensive car and you drive a used honda). In this situation you could never make most people happy because obviously half the people are less wealthy than the other half.

    in fact, it was this happiness seeking that leads to communism, because the rich say, money is good it buys happiness. The poor say, cool deal, we're going to steal your happiness then. Cuz if happiness is the goal and money buys it, people will say that everyone should have the same amount of money, and suddenly everyone is poor and brain dead (who knows about their happiness).

    Libertarianism is not supposed to be about endorsing greed or avarice (objectivists can go fuck themselves, no one else will), it is supposed to be about principles rooted in MEANING!

    advocate libertarian policy because it is the only smart thing in a stupid world, but liberals and conservatives have their personal lives waay more fucking together because they seek meaning.

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