Happiness

More Money Does Buy More Happiness, Says Study

If you think that money can't buy happiness, that means you just don't know where to shop. 

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"Does money buy happiness?," asked economist Richard Easterlin in his famous 1973 essay in The Public Interest. His conclusion was that once a certain level of economic development had been achieved, greater wealth and income did not lead to greater overall happiness. At an aggregate level, more money does not buy more happiness, he claimed. However subsequent research found that people dwelling in higher-income countries are happier than those living in poorer places. Nevertheless, Easterlin continues to doggedly defend his position.

There is also the claim, supposedly based on work by Princeton economist and Nobelist Angus Deaton and his colleagues that happiness, does not increase once an individual's income reaches about $75,000 per year. Actually, what the study found is that more money does not affect the immediate level of joys, stress, and sadness, but does correlate strongly with measures of overall life satisfaction.

A new study using happiness survey data encompassing the responses of 44,000 adult Americans between 1972 and 2016 from the General Social Survey (GSS) finds that more money does in fact correlate with more happiness.

Over the decades, the GSS has asked respondents to measure on a three-point scale: "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?"

To cut to the chase, after researchers parse the data by income deciles, they find:

Twenty-one percent of those in the lowest decile described themselves as "very happy" compared with 45% of those in the top decile; thus, those at the top of the income scale were more than twice as likely to be very happy than those at the bottom. Even with deciles, there was not a tapering of happiness at the top: Adults in the top decile of household income ($108,410 and up) were significantly happier than those in the ninth decile ($77,233 to 108,150). Those in the 10th (top) decile were 5% more likely to be "very happy" were than those in the ninth decile. Thus, among U.S. adults over age 30, money, education, and prestige are associated with more happiness, with no tapering off at higher levels of income as found in some previous studies.

The old adage is still true: If you think that money can't buy happiness, that means you just don't know where to shop.

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    3. “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”

      — “Weird Al” Yankovic, _This Is The Life_, 1985

  1. “His conclusion was that once a certain level of economic development had been achieved, greater wealth and income did not lead to greater overall happiness”

    Sure, once you include goal post moving into the equation. Peak happiness is just a wee bit more economic development away

    1. That’s the trick — it’s all relative. More money than now makes you happier soon, then you get acclimated and want more.

      I’ve never driven a Lamborghini. I find it hard to imagine that the fun per buck is ten times as good over a car costing one tenth as much. But if I had the money to drop on a Lambo on a whim, would I? Probably. Or at least rent one.

      The grass is always greener. Keeping up with the Joneses. It’s all relative, as folk sayings have it.

      1. Hey remember when you said portapotties are buffets?

        SQRLSY One
        July.2.2020 at 5:11 pm
        Port-a-potties ARE buffets

        https://reason.com/2020/07/02/empowered-by-excessive-regulations-permit-karen-harasses-her-neighbors-and-calls-the-cops/#comment-8330660

        Forever lolollol

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  2. I’ve seen other studies that conclude that the real key to happiness is autonomy.

    If autonomy is the ability to make choices for yourself, then it makes sense that wealthier people might be happier–because they tend to be freer to make choices for themselves.

    Don’t like your boss? If you’re wealthier, chances are you have more flexibility to quit and change jobs. Don’t like where you live? Again, wealthier people can choose to live elsewhere.

    Poorer people may have the opportunity to stay home for vacation. Wealthier people can go where they want. What do you want to eat tonight? . . . on down the list.

    I’m sure plenty of poor people are perfectly happy. When I lived in southern Mexico, I saw lots of happy people with practically nothing. They were doing what they wanted to do. I suspect that’s why they were happy.

    1. So basically put your kids in a prep school, and dump the wife in a detox clinic.

      1. Your ideas gave me a woodie.

        1. From Toy Story or Cheers?

    2. Exactly. In California it takes $75k a year just to live but if there are any emergencies that isn’t enough and that $75k doesn’t get you a retirement plan either you need to make $100k or move to another state when you retire

    3. Autonomy is priceless.

      I can’t even imagine – no matter how creative – how I’d be able to work in the corporate world under the zeitgeist. It’s already insufferably suffocating from where I am, but imagine if I had to sit an actually listen and witness it in a board room while reading virtue-signalling emails from bosses.

      Blech.

      Then again, I’m not much of a team player. I would see those ‘raw, raw’ emails at the bank and would laugh and delete.

      All for show.

      1. Yep. I got a lot happier 10 years ago when I retired at age 53 from my corporate career. And I could do that only because I was wealthy. It wasn’t the ability to buy nice things or take expensive vacations that was life-changing, although those are nice. It’s not having to work.

      2. amen…the endless blather would cause me to issue punches in the noses. in 1993 i said adios to relying on others for my daily bread and every day since then i’m glad i did.

    4. “I’ve seen other studies that conclude that the real key to happiness is autonomy.”

      The only real freedom is the wise use of money.
      Too bad the republicans and democrats can’t figure that one out.

  3. As a Koch / Reason libertarian, I want our benefactor Charles Koch to be happy. That’s why I’m so upset his net worth is only around $50,000,000,000 right now when he deserves at least $70,000,000,000 or $80,000,000,000.

    1. Cheapskate. 250 billion or bust!

  4. Herman “Flava” Cain, former GOP presidential candidate known for his catch phrases “shucky ducky” and “where de white wimmen at?”, hospitalized for COVID-19 he contracted at the Trump Tulsa rally.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2020-07-02/herman-cain-2012-republican-presidential-candidate-hospitalized-with-coronavirus

    1. I’m sure that was the only exposure he got.

    2. Oh wow you’re not only a pedo but a racist too.

      Gross.

      1. You progs think you’re so “woke” you have to make shit up about people you don’t like.

        1. No you’re definitely a racist it’s right there.

          1. And he admitted he was a pedo so he’s 0 for 2 on refutations.

        2. you have to make shit up about people you don’t like.

          Herman “Flava” Cain, former GOP presidential candidate known for his catch phrases “shucky ducky” and “where de white wimmen at?”

          1. Remember, you are allowed to be racist to those who wander off the democrat plantation.

            The Uncle Tom documentary that was just put out is pretty good in highlighting the normalized racism of the left.

            1. Spermin’ Herman had a well known penchant for roaming the halls of that DC outfit he ran and harassing white women. And he was a radio DJ thus the “Flav”. That was his main credential as a candidate.

              But Republicans support Republicans. I get it.

              Tribes matter!

              Whoops – is that “racist” to you too?

              Sorry to trigger your dainty ass.

              1. you have to make shit up about people you don’t like

                Spermin’ Herman had a well known penchant for roaming the halls of that DC outfit he ran and harassing white women. And he was a radio DJ thus the “Flav”.

                also, flav was a hype man not a dj you dummy

  5. I guess the GSS study does not control for geo?
    With 50k, I would be very unhappy in the Bay Area.
    With 50k, I would be very happy in the mid-west.

    1. Clearly you are not woke-socialist enough. Living like a peasant-comrade in the enlightened land of Sanfrancisostan leads to much greater collective happiness than living like a wealthy oppressive land-owner in flyover country.

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    1. But will it make you happy?

  7. I’ve heard happiness is wearing a mask 24/7 but only if everybody knows about it and hits “like”.

    1. Sacrificing for the collective brings about the deepest happiness.

      1. Except… follow me here…. sacrificing the collective.

  8. “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”

    “If you could have an additional million dollars a year–tax free, of course—would you say that you would be very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”

  9. Having more money absolutely makes you happier!

  10. Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, and Chris Cornell might beg to differ.

    1. I’m sure all 3 would have been been alive and loving life if they were in poverty.

      1. Their various substance abuse problems would have been much easier to deal with if they were broke, too.

        I think Ken, above, has the right of it. Money allows you freedom. Freedom to take care of problems, like depression, or being hooked on smack/coke, pills, or booze, without getting thrown into jail, or living under a bridge.

        1. He’s not interested in conversation. Only scoring points.

          1. so you weren’t joking you were looking for a conversation?

            get your lies straight drunky

    2. Ok, you’re cool with using the mentally ill as your metric for reality I guess.

      1. It must be miserable being so serious all the time.

        1. It must be miserable getting mocked for saying something moronic then pretending it was a joke.

          1. Oh I get it. When you like someone’s politics and they make a joke it’s a joke, and if you don’t like their politics you insist their jokes are them being serious.

            How does it feel to be deliberately obtuse?

            1. You know, you really shouldn’t get so perturbed just because you got mocked for saying something moronic.

              1. Says the dumbass who can’t tell when someone is joking. What a humorless world you must live in. I would pity you if you didn’t live in a city of pussies. Boston Strong? Haaaa ha ha ha ha ha!

                1. You must be poor to be this unhappy about being mocked for saying something moronic.

                  1. Nothing says “well adjusted” like screaming “IT WAS A JOKE” over and over when you get made fun of lololll

                    1. sarcasmic
                      July.3.2020 at 11:23 am
                      I’m, yeah.

                      Did you see that he’s so upset he isn’t coherent.

                    2. It’s called a typo, genius.

                    3. We can all see that you’re very upset, to the point of incoherence, but no one was talking to you.

                      Try to have some decorum please.

                  2. I’m, yeah. I’m so unhappy that I’m laughing at you. Suuure.

                    1. You sound poorer and more upset with with evey post. That one wasn’t even English.

                    2. The funny part is, even if he really was joking it doesn’t matter anymore with how he’s been crying at you.

                      I mean JFC you ( supposedly) made a bad joke a got mocked grow the fuck up lolol

            2. Yo momma so obtuse she dense

              1. Oh hey shit eater, remember when you said portapotties were buffets?

                1. SQRSLY said they were your buffet. Does that mean that you is me and I is you? Where’d the walrus go?

                  1. No SQLSRY this is what you said

                    SQRLSY One
                    July.2.2020 at 5:11 pm
                    Port-a-potties ARE buffets

                    https://reason.com/2020/07/02/empowered-by-excessive-regulations-permit-karen-harasses-her-neighbors-and-calls-the-cops/#comment-8330660

                    and now you’re super desperate because you fucked up and you know it!

                    AHAHAHAHAHAH you said portapotties are buffets and I get to mock you forever shit eater!

              2. His momma’s so loose her chmod is 777!

                1. God you’re stupid.

                  1. It always amuses me when people encounter something they don’t understand, and then say “You’re stupid” to someone who is obviously smarter and more educated than they are. Thanks for the laugh!

                    1. Wait you think I didn’t know that was a stolen
                      “joke” about permissions?

                      That is even more stupid than your previous comment.

                    2. It always amuses me when people encounter something they don’t understand, and then say “You’re stupid” to someone who is obviously smarter and more educated than they are.

                      You mean like you did with me after you admitted I was smarter and more educated than you, until you realized that calling me stupid wouldn’t work because you already admitted I was smarter than you. so you started lying, and then realized thay wouldn’t work either so now you just hide?

                      You mean like that?

                      Sudo cry more bitch!

                    3. two jokes in the thread two overdefensive responses

                  2. Is God stupid because he made you? I think so too, what a mistake!

                    1. speaking of mistake you sure fucked up when you said portapotties are buffets lolol

                      SQRLSY One
                      July.2.2020 at 5:11 pm
                      Port-a-potties ARE buffets

                      https://reason.com/2020/07/02/empowered-by-excessive-regulations-permit-karen-harasses-her-neighbors-and-calls-the-cops/#comment-8330660

                      AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH

                    2. Is God stupid because he made you? I think so too, what a mistake!

                      SQRSLY said they were your buffet. Does that mean that you is me and I is you? Where’d the walrus go?

                      Ok you’re definitely SQRLSY.

          2. It must be miserable getting mocked for saying something moronic then pretending it was a joke.

            Its one of the reasons he’s a rampant violent alcoholic whose physically abused spouse divorced him and got a restraining order.

  11. But money is evil. If money correlates with happiness, then happiness is evil.

    Oh, now I see where the progressives are taking us.

    1. For progressives, envy is a virtue.

      1. “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

        ― H.L. Mencken,

        1. That’s a conservative virtue.

          1. Disagree. Do you know many hardcore lefty environmentalists? I have. They could give the original Puritans a run for their money in embracing asceticism.

            1. I’m talking about those who support the drug war, who are against sex work, who oppose people moving away from shitholes to be happy in America… them’s conservative values.

              Environmentalism isn’t about being afraid of others being happy, it’s about being ashamed of being human.

              1. God you’re stupid.

                1. His problem isn’t that he’s stupid, that can be forgiven, it’s that he insists hes right while being stupid.

                  And also he’s a wife and child abusing drunk.

              2. I’m talking about those who support the drug war, who are against sex work, who oppose people moving away from shitholes to be happy in America… them’s conservative values.

                You lose. The first was not a conservative position until the ‘social cost’ of drugs was invented in the ’60s, and has since been embraced by liberals for the same reason, the second is evangelical, and the last is only a conservative position in a system with entitlements.

                1. I see posts on social media – “my 83 year old grandma just got her citizenship!” and it’s greeted by a chorus of cheers from conservative Americans.
                  No, or very few, leftists chiming in to celebrate.
                  Wonder why that is…

          2. The original Puritans were lefties. Those on the right were fighting for King Charles.

              1. So you’re wrong and stupid. That you said “so” definitively proves it and also proves that you don’t even realize why.

                1. Full disclosure you telling him to shut up and fuck off and then seeing him actually do it is hilarious

                  1. I broke his heart what can he do but hide until it mends?

    2. Misery is happiness. I read it in 1984.

      1. Well, misery can be fun to watch (or induce).

  12. Money doesn’t buy happiness, it just gives you greater access to things to be unhappy about. A starving man wants a crust of bread, I had the waiter bring me a salted margarita when I distinctly said “no salt”. We’re both unhappy.

    1. Hierarchy of needs, right?

      1. Is that what you call the pyramid of shooters you have next to your bed?

    2. Tell me he didn’t use sweet and sour mix too.

      1. And well tequila. *shudders*

  13. Money won’t buy you happiness, but it will buy you the stuff that will buy you happiness!

  14. Hence, why the left wants equality of outcomes.

    No one should be happy and all should be equally envious and miserable and take it out on inanimate objects like statues.

    1. Things not possible with equality of outcomes:

      happiness
      freedom
      increasing wealth (and eventually, just wealth)
      sports
      birthday parties
      sex

    2. If you met someone who was constantly obsessing and complaining about all the wrongs they saw in the world, and who insisted on forcing everyone around them to focus on those exclusively; and if they wouldn’t let you celebrate good events or holidays, like 4th of July, without objecting and throwing a temper tantrum… you’d probably rightly conclude that they have some kind of personality disorder.

      1. And I should clarify that those “wrongs” are almost exclusively or usually in the form of past grievances

  15. If you don’t have your basic needs met or you are worried that if you get sick, you can’t afford a doctor. If you can’t buy food when you are hungry. If your housing is poor or you can’t afford to educate and care for your children, that is going to make you unhappy and stressed. You can’t positive think yourself out of the problems of poverty.

    Once you have the basics covered and enough savings to cover an emergency, then other factors affect happiness. However, in the US, earning at least $75,000 per year makes happier. Each amount over that has diminishing returns on happiness. So a billionaire isn’t necessarily happier than a millionaire. Also, if you become extremely wealthy then you do worry that people don’t like you as a person.

    1. Considering that $100k income exempts you from insurance exchanges, meaning, you can no longer afford a doctor, you are going to have plateaus and valleys in that graph.

  16. Here’s an idea. How about I get to decide for myself if money makes me happy, and you all fuck off and die?

    1. I think this is a campaign slogan we should all get on board with.

  17. There is probably some confounding with status. Higher status typically correlates with higher money and feeling higher status correlates with higher self-esteem and happiness. The moral of the story is not that rich people “deserve” more money – we can and should tax them at a higher rate and distribute wealth – but that hierarchies matter.

    1. We should distribute wealth?

      Why not distribute wealth-earning work? If you have the moral authority to take my stuff, which is the same thing as taking my time and freedom, then I have the moral authority to force you to give up financially unproductive choices and actions, so that you earn your own wealth.

      Otherwise, fuck off.

    2. “we should”? speak for yourself.

    3. “…we can and should tax them at a higher rate and distribute wealth…”

      Fuck off and die, slaver.

  18. OK, lets have a test. Give me enough money to pay off all my bills, mortgage, etc., and ask me how happy I am afterwards.

    1. You’ll be far happier if you do it yourself.

      1. From the same line of thinking that brought you “food you make yourself tastes better.” Trust me, it does not. I’m a garbage cook; the food I make is just fuel.

        If Ragnarr got a duffel bag of money from God he would be just as happy – happier – than if he had slaved away 30 years for that same duffel. As would I.

  19. Why we still have doubt in this matter 😛 of course more money bring s more happiness 😛 – Thanks fo the article.
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  20. I like two things in life.
    Money.
    Women.
    In that order because the first gets the second.

  21. Money buys privacy. Which may or may not lead to happiness.

  22. so just to be clear here, MORE money is good? i better write that down. slow news day?

  23. in the immortal words of david lee roth, noted scholar, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”

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  26. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can rent it.

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