Can’t Buy You Love
It is an often quoted statement that money can’t buy happiness, but in our heart of hearts, many of us doubt that it is true. One of the growing subfields of behavioral economics (a field which I’ve posted about before) is happiness research. In particular, the relationship between wealth and happiness has gotten a lot of attention.
The researchers discovered money is indeed a major factor in day-to-day happiness. No surprise there. You need to make a certain amount, on average, to be able to afford food, shelter, clothing, entertainment and the occasional Apple product, but what spun top hats around the country was their finding that beyond a certain point your happiness levels off. The happiness money offers doesn’t keep getting more and more potent – it plateaus. The research showed that a lack of money brings unhappiness, but an overabundance does not have the opposite effect.
According to the research, in modern America the average income required to be happy day-to-day, to experience “emotional well being” is about $75,000 a year. According to the researchers, past that point adding more to your income “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness, or stress.” A person who makes, on average, $250,000 a year has no greater emotional well-being, no extra day-to-day happiness, than a person making $75,000 a year. In Mississippi it is a bit less, in Chicago a bit more, but the point is there is evidence for the existence of a financiohappiness ceiling. The super-wealthy may believe they are happier, and you may agree, but you both share a delusion.
On the one hand, this type of research should inform our decisions about how we treat wealth and its accumulation. On the other hand, maybe there is nothing here that four noted non-economists from Liverpool weren’t telling us nearly fifty years ago.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 Liberaland